At least 3 dead, 1 seriously injured in scaffolding accident at high-rise building in North Carolina

Three people were killed and a fourth seriously injured Monday when scaffolding collapsed at a high-rise building under construction in downtown Raleigh.

Construction workers were in the process of removing and lowering the scaffolding when the accident occurred shortly before 11 a.m., a representative for the building told WRAL-TV.

Jeffrey Hammerstein, the district chief at Wake County EMS, said three people were confirmed dead in the accident at the glass and steel building, where movable scaffolding peeled away from the 11-story glass and steel building into a parking lot below.

Authorities were working to identify those who died.

Leroy Kelly, who was working at the site, told WRAL he was under the scaffolding when he heard it snap.

"I ran and it fell like two feet away from me," Kelly said.

State Department of Labor spokesman Neal O'Briant said Monday that his agency is investigating the cause. Officials had closed off a wide area around the scene.

A group of men in hard hats and yellow vests, some of which said Associated Scaffolding on them, were talking to an official near the edge of the police line. A woman who answered the phone at the company's Durham headquarters declined to give her name and said the company had no comment.

According to the state Department of Labor, the construction industry accounts for the bulk of workplace fatalities in the state, with 19 deaths reported in 2014.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.