NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Following the death of a 16-year-old who fell 120 feet from scaffolding at a construction site Tuesday, the company operating the site confirmed to News4 Investigates they had no idea a subcontractor had hired him.
A 911 call obtained by News4 Investigates also showed confusion as to the age of the teenager.
16-year-old Gustavo Ramirez, who had moved to Springfield, TN 23 days ago from Franklin, Ky, died after falling at the construction site for the La Quinta Inn on 315 Interstate Drive.
Ramirez’s 18 year old brother, Joshua Ramirez, was also working on the job site and told police his brother fell in a split second.
In a statement to News4 Investigates, a spokeswoman for D.F. Chase wrote that the company was unaware Ramirez has been assigned to plaster work.
The spokeswoman wrote that they were unaware that their subcontractor in charge of plastering services, Stover & Sons, had hired another contractor, Cortez Plastering.
The spokeswoman added that Cortez Plastering had hired Ramirez, but that Stover and Sons ultimately was in direct control and supervision of Ramirez.
News4 Investigates has been unable to reach anyone from Cortez Plastering for comment.
News4 Investigates twice reached Stover and Sons by phone, but was told they would not be answering questions.
One of the 911 calls, obtained by News4 Investigates, was made by a man identifying himself as Donnie Stover, who the company confirmed worked for Stover and Sons.
In the 911 call, Stover said, “One of my guys fell. He’s out back of the building there. And he fell from pretty high up.”
When the 911 operator asks how old the victim was, Stover replies, “I’m not…he’s probably 25, 30, something like that. Please hurry. He probably fell 100 feet.”
Stover also explains that he was not with the victim and had been told about the fall.
The representative from Stover and Son would not elaborate on what was said on the 911 call.
Friends of Ramirez at Franklin-Simpson High school continue to remember the young man for his sense of humor and ability to cheer people up.
“He would try to uplift everyone around him,” said Eliza Cook, Ramirez’s high school friend. “It’s just shocking to me, and to think that’s how he passed, it’s just a scary thing.”
Maggie McBrayer, another of Ramirez’s high school friends, said she was surprised to hear what job he was performing at the time of his death.
“I have no clue why, at that construction site, people who hired him for the job, let him go up that high without a harness. That’s unbelievable,” McBrayer said.
Chris Cannon, a spokesman for the state department of labor and workforce development, said two departments within the agency are investigating the circumstances surrounding Ramirez’s death.
Cannon confirmed that teenagers are allowed to work on construction sites by state law, but there are limitations, and investigators are working now to determine what work the teenager was doing.
Cannon also said that a restraint or harness is not needed on scaffolding if it has proper handrails and footing.