Man falls to death at plant

Accident occurred at Xcel Energy's Hayden Station on Sunday

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A Mississippi man died Sunday after falling nearly 100 feet into an empty boiler at Xcel Energy's Hayden Station.

Routt County Deputy Coroner Mitch Locke said 34-year-old Jason Parks of Lucedale, Miss., was pronounced dead at Yampa Valley Medical Center at about 5:45 p.m., an hour after the accident was reported. Locke said Parks died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Parks worked as a pipe cutter and fitter for Southeast Texas Industrial Services, a company that was subcontracted by Xcel Energy to repair one of its boilers, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said Tuesday.

Parks was working on the ninth floor of the boiler when he fell from scaffolding to the bottom of the cone-shaped boiler, Warner said.

Two Sheriff's Office deputies and West Routt Ambulance personnel responded to the accident. CPR was performed on Parks almost immediately after the fall and up until the time he was pronounced dead, Warner said.

Investigators think Parks' death was an accident. Parks was not wearing a safety harness when he fell, Warner said.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator on Tuesday was looking into Parks' death.

Warner said he will not say whether Parks violated safety procedures until the OSHA investigation is complete.

"Work safety practices are being looked into," Warner said.

The OSHA inspector and an OSHA public information officer did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Warner said people working from scaffoldings often don't wear harnesses because the scaffolding is designed to cage them in.

Parks reportedly was working with two or three people at the time of the fall. They were repairing one of the plant's boilers, which was empty while the work was being performed.

Parks recently was married, according to The Mississippi Press.

The Hayden Station is a coal-fired, steam-electric generating power plant with two operating units. The plant is owned by three electric companies, but Xcel has operational responsibilities.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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