CLEARWATER, Fla. — Investigators are looking into just how a large piece of metal crushed a Clearwater construction worker Monday afternoon.  

  • Accident occurred around 1 p.m.
  • Contractor working on city stormwater project
  • OSHA now investigating accident
  • More Pinellas County stories

The accident occurred around 1 p.m. at a City of Clearwater stormwater project in the 1400 block of Jeffords Street. 

Officials have identified the victim as Manolo Ruiz-Sanchez, 36, of Dunedin. His friends from his church described Manolo as an experienced worker who had been in construction for years. 

"We’ll miss him a lot. I just saw him yesterday for the last time, so I’m still trying to process everything," said friend Carolina Bravo.  "He was just a loving man. He loved helping elderly women at church. He was always willing to serve."

Bravo says Manolo was in his 30s. Most of his family is in Mexico, where he is from originally. 

He was a contractor with Keystone Excavators, working on a City of Clearwater project.

He was killed when a large piece of metal fell on him while he was working in the ditch. First responders arrived, but he was killed instantly. 

"A big metal wall goes into the box. The employee was crushed between that side wall and the metal sheet," said Joelle Castelli, Clearwater Public Communications Director. 

How exactly that happened is now under investigation by OSHA. 

Bravo says she can't recall Manolo having a problem at work before.

"He’s never been in a situation like this before. But these are the risks you take in construction," Bravo said. 

We reached out to Keystone but we did not get a response. 

The ditch is part of a stormwater project designed to reduce flooding in the area.  Work will stop while the investigation gets underway.