A judge Wednesday ordered Baylor University and two companies that are building Baylor’s new on-campus football stadium to preserve evidence, including possible video recordings, from an accident that claimed the life of a construction worker last month.
Judge Jim Meyer of Waco’s 170th State District Court issued a temporary restraining order against Baylor, Derr and Isbell Construction and Flintco at the request of Jose Dario Suarez’s wife and two daughters.
The judge’s order said Vuk Vujasinovic, the Houston attorney who represents the Suarez family, can inspect the construction site Tuesday as part of his investigation into Suarez’s death.
But there was confusion Wednesday afternoon whether the judge intended for the order to stop all construction on McLane Stadium until Vujasinovic can inspect the site or only on the day of the inspection.
Meyer, who was traveling Wednesday afternoon, has scheduled a phone conference for Thursday morning with attorneys involved in the case to clarify some of the language in the order, including confusion about the work stoppage.
“We just became aware of this and we are trying to get clarification of the order,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.
Workers continued to build the new football stadium and bridge Tuesday afternoon.
An attorney for Baylor and the construction companies did not return phone messages Tuesday afternoon.
The order also requires Baylor and the construction companies to preserve “material evidence,” including a videotape chronicling the construction process, which Vujasinovic claims is in jeopardy of being “discarded, altered or destroyed.”
The order also restrains Baylor and the companies from damaging, modifying, altering or disposing of construction equipment and tools involved in the accident; clothing and protective equipment worn by Suarez; and various documentation concerning the companies’ employment and safety practices.
Suarez, 55, of Manor, drowned Jan. 28 after a hydraulic lift he and another construction worker were strapped to slipped or rolled from a barge into the Brazos River.
Suarez and another man were working on the pedestrian bridge over the Brazos River that will link the new stadium to campus just behind Baylor Law School. The other man was able to untether himself after the lift went into the river, but Suarez was not.
Divers found his body still strapped to the lift about four hours later.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident but has not released its report.
“Nobody has told Mr. Suarez’s surviving wife, children or mother exactly why Mr. Suarez drowned on this job,” Vujasinovic said in a statement.
“To make matters worse, none of the construction companies have released their investigation results. Instead, it appears that after OSHA left the area, the football stadium construction activities resumed.”