Construction firm fined for worker's death at Saints ballpark site


A construction firm working at the site of the new St. Paul Saints ballpark has been fined more than $50,000 as a result of an accident last year that killed one of its workers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Johnny Valek, 61, of Plymouth, was killed in September when a concrete slab at the old Gillette building in Lowertown collapsed on the cab of the backhoe Valek was operating. The building was demolished to make way for the new Saints ballpark.

Valek worked for Rachel Contracting, based in St. Michael, Minn. Minnesota OSHA investigated the accident and found three serious safety violations, and levied a $51,650 fine against the company, according to the Associated Press.

Minnesota OSHA investigates all work-related fatalities in the state.

Rachel Contracting is contesting the citations, according to the OSHA website.

Ryan Cos. is the lead contractor for the ballpark construction, and OSHA did not find any violations involving Ryan, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ryan Cos. said in a statement Wednesday, "Ryan has high safety standards and places great importance on running safe jobsites, and we respect OSHA's authority in this matter. While we are grateful to bring this part of the process to closure as progress continues on bringing a great new ballpark to the City of St. Paul, we keep Mr. Valek's family in our hearts and prayers."

Officials from Rachel Contracting did not respond to requests for comment.

The Saints’ new $63 million, 7,000-seat ballpark is scheduled to be ready for the team’s home opener in May 2015.

Next Up

smoke, hazy sky, wildfire smoke

Hazy conditions may lift temporarily, but smoke will keep coming for MN

Drifting smoke "will likely remain with us for a while," one group warned.

Pixabay - covid face mask bicycle bike

Number of MN counties with high, substantial COVID transmission hits 64

Nine days ago, 14 counties passed that threshold. We're now up to 64.

rowdi billboard

Six months on, devoted family not giving up search to find missing Rowdi

Rowdi went missing on the North Shore in February, but Cory Carlson has hope Rowdi is still alive.

Pixabay - hospital emergency room sign

Woman suffers fractured neck, leg after driver blows through stop sign

The crash happened early Thursday about 20 miles outside of Detroit Lakes.

suni lee

Watch: Suni Lee reunites with family after winning 3 Olympic medals

Suni said she wouldn't be where he is today without her family.

Julie blaha and melisa franzen

Blaha, Franzen reveal extent of injuries suffered in crash

The state auditor and state senator were driving home from FarmFest.

covid vaccine card

More than 11K Minnesotans signed up for $100 COVID incentive on Day 1

The new vaccination rewards program opened on Wednesday, and it has proven quite popular among the newly vaccinated.

jeremy jones richardson - pine county

Charges: Man broke into friend's home, killed him with his cane

Pieces of the victim's cane were found on his back, charges say.

Awwal Adebayo Ladipo Go Fund Me hospital

Charges: Fatal punch after fight led to fractured skull, brain bleed

The victim, a 25-year-old St. Cloud State grad, died two days later.

Pixabay - school - classroom

Minneapolis Public Schools to require face masks for staff, students

The rule goes into effect Monday, and will continue at the start of the new school year.