Work at the downtown St. Paul site was halted after Johnny Valek, 61, of Plymouth, was killed when a 10-by-30-foot section of concrete collapsed on the backhoe he was operating. Investigators, including officials from OSHA, have launched a probe to determine what went wrong.
Crews have been at work since July at the site tearing down the former Diamond Products/Gillette building in order to pave the way for a new stadium for the St. Paul Saints.
Valek, a 30-year veteran of demolition and construction work, was planning to retire next year and was looking forward to the wedding of his daughter, local media reported. Valek’s brother, Randy, told KARE 11 that his brother was an expert in his field. Randy Valek said the Gillette building job was one of the toughest his brother had faced, given the thickness of the concrete walls they were tearing out.
“He thought it was very dangerous,” Randy Valek told WCCO.
The stadium's costs have been rising due to site remediation issues. The pricetag for the new 7,000-seat ballpark is now about $63 million.
The team hopes the new ballpark will be open in time for the Saints’ opener in May 2015.