OSHA looking into death at Port Neches shipyard

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, February 25, 2020

PORT NECHES — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a workplace fatality after a man fell to his death at a Port Neches shipyard on Saturday.

OSHA Deputy Regional Director of Public Affairs Juan Rodriguez confirmed, via email, they have opened an investigation into the fatal incident and that no other information will be available until the investigation is complete.

Rodriguez did not give a timeline for the investigation.

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Jefferson County Pct. 7 Justice of the Peace Brad Burnett ordered an autopsy on the deceased, who was identified as Gelacia Martinez, 60, of Winnie.

Burnett’s office did not have the preliminary autopsy report as of Monday.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies were called at 12:57 p.m. Saturday to Sterling Shipyard, 906 Main St. in Port Neches, in reference to an industrial accident with injury. It was reported than an employee had fallen on a tugboat at the dry dock, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Crystal Holmes said.

The man was brought to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The incident remains under investigation, Holmes said.

Authorities believe the fall was accidental.

Sterling Shipyard, according to its website, was established in January 2009 and is a full-service repair facility that also does new construction. There are two dry docks on the site; one has a 1,350-ton capacity and the second has a 900-ton capacity. Authorities did not say where Martinez was when he fell.

The Port Arthur News reached out to Sterling Shipyard several times Monday and was told the owners were in a meeting. They did not return the call by press time.