Tape measure falls 50 stories, killing man at construction site

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A man delivering drywall to a New Jersey construction site was killed Monday when a tape measure fell 50 stories, striking him on the head, authorities said.

The 1-pound tape measure became dislodged from the belt of a worker on the 50th floor and struck construction equipment about 10 to 15 feet from the ground, according to Carly Baldwin, a spokeswoman for Jersey City's Department of Public Safety. It then ricocheted and struck Gary Anderson, 58, who had just stopped to speak with another worker who was in a pickup truck just before 9 a.m. in the city's downtown section.

Anderson, of Somerdale, N.J., was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly before 10 a.m.

Anderson was not wearing a hard hat, but had one in his truck at the time, according to the police report.

“He was a very good worker,” an employee of New York-based trucking company George Hildebrandt told the New York Post. “He’s been with us for a long time.”

A person who picked up the phone at Anderson’s home said it was a “difficult time," declining further comment.

Workers at the construction site were temporarily cleared out after the accident, but resumed their jobs at the site later in the afternoon. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident, the Post reports.

A former construction worker near the site told the newspaper: “You don’t work in this environment without a hard hat."

“He paid the price,” the man said sadly. “You gotta have it.”

A police report listed Anderson as working for Charlotte, N.C.-based National Gypsum. A spokeswoman for the company said he was delivering National Gypsum's product at the time of the accident but was employed by an independent trucking company.

Officials said two 50-story residential towers and an attached hotel are being built at the site of the accident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.