Worker dies from injuries at Vernon Hills mall

A man working as part of a demolition crew died hours after he was hit by concrete falling from a facade at Westfield Hawthorn shopping center in Vernon Hills, authorities said.

Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said Patrick J. O’Reilly, 25, of Palos Park, died from multiple crush injuries Friday morning at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. O’Reilly suffered a crushed pelvis and internal bleeding in the late Thursday mishap, he said.

Vernon Hills police said O’Reilly and two co-workers were showered with concrete outside the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Late-night work has been occurring at the mall for extensive renovations.

Rescue personnel from the Countryside Fire Protection District were summoned at 11 p.m. and arrived in roughly three minutes, Deputy Chief Chuck Smith said. Ambulances brought O’Reilly and another worker, who sustained minor injuries, to nearby Condell.

In a statement, Vernon Hills Village Manager Michael Allison conveyed condolences and prayers to O’Reilly’s family.

“At this point there is no indication that this is (anything) other than a tragic accident,” Allison said.

Police said an initial investigation shows the demolition crew had been removing an outer layer of brick from an exterior wall of the mall when the concrete pieces fell from the roof line. Several sections of concrete struck the three workers at the construction site where Maggiano’s Little Italy is replacing Ruby Tuesday at the mall’s southwest entrance.

Smith said co-workers had cleared the rubble off the men before Countryside firefighters arrived.

O’Reilly and the others were at Westfield Hawthorn for Wheeling-based P.S. Demolition Inc., said Scott Allen, a spokesman for the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He said OSHA, as is routine, has opened an investigation into the death.

P.S. Demolition President Gregg M. Klatecki did not return messages seeking comment.

Last year, 775 of 3,945 private-sector worker fatalities, or nearly 20 percent, were in construction, according to OSHA. Falls and workers getting hit by objects topped the construction site fatality list.

As part of a $50 million Westfield Hawthorn expansion and renovation, Maggiano’s is expected to open next spring in a 10,000-square-foot space. Maggiano’s addressed O’Reilly’s death in a statement.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all those involved in the accident and their families during this very difficult time,” says the restaurant’s statement issued by a spokeswoman Friday. “At Maggiano’s Little Italy, safety is of the utmost importance, and as such, our entire restaurant family is saddened by this tragic news.”

In June, the Vernon Hills village board approved a 10-year agreement, with opportunities for extensions, that could amount to a sales tax rebate of nearly $13 million for Westfield Hawthorn to defray its renovation expenses. The mall spans 1.4 million square feet northwest of Milwaukee Avenue and Route 60.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in the accident and their families,” Westfield Hawthorn said in a statement.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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