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Construction Worker Who Died In South Austin Was On "Makeshift" Scaffolding

Image courtesy Ciorra Photography

A 35-year-old man who died this week on a construction site in South Austin was working on a "makeshift" scaffolding, according to the Austin Police Department.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the accident at the Village on Little Texas.

Senior Austin police officer Veneza Aguinaga says police responded to a call on Wednesday afternoon to the 400 block of Little Texas Lane.  One Hispanic man was pronounced dead at the scene. Another man was rushed to Brackenridge and survived.

"Both males were in a makeshift scaffold about three stories up when they fell from there," Aguinaga said.

The Workers Defense Project has begun raising funds for the victim's family. They say the victim's name was Elvis Mendez. (Update at 4:52 pm: APD have confirmed the man's name was Elvin Ferrufino.) He had a wife and two children.

"Every two-and-a-half days, a construction worker dies in Texas," Cristina Tzintzún with the Workers Defense Project told KUT News. "There's no reason why Texas needs to have so many workers dying."

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, 138 construction workers died on the job in Texas. Fifty-five of those deaths were from falls.

Captuity Investments III was awarded $2,940,000 by the city in 2009 to include 50 affordable housing units in the 240 unit complex. The deal also includes property tax exemptions, and was criticized by housing advocates at the time, according to the Statesman

The taxpayer subsidies are too generous for the modest return in housing for the truly poor, some housing advocates say. They note that in exchange for paying no property taxes, only 50 of the 240-unit development will be priced for families making $36,650 or less a year, a figure that equates locally to 50 percent of median income. The remaining 80 percent of the unitswould rent near or at market rates — and higher in some instances, according to a study by a nonprofit developer of affordable housing.Walter Moreau, executive director of Foundation Communities, recently surveyed apartment complexes near the proposed Village site that received no tax breaks and found that several charged rents lower than those proposed for the new project. The Village's highest-priced two-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,040 a month.


Elizabeth Todd, regional director of public affairs for US Department of Labor, told KUT News that OSHA has opened an investigation into the incident but no details are available.

"They have by law up to six months to investigate," Todd said.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.