March 28, 2023

McKenzielee Blog

Wicked Clever House Experts

Differing reports given regarding contractor hurt in 30-foot fall at Valley High School

2 min read

The New Kensington-Arnold School District and an attorney who says she is representing the victim’s family gave differing reports about the condition of a repairman who fell through Valley High School’s auditorium ceiling Tuesday morning.

New Kensington-Arnold Superintendent Chris Sefcheck said he was told Wednesday evening the man was being released from a hospital Thursday.

Sefcheck did not release the man’s name nor the name of the company for which he works.

Attorney Michelle Shuker said she is representing the man’s family. She also declined to publicly release the man’s name.

New Kensington-Arnold officials said the man was working on an air handler related to the auditorium’s heating system. He fell about 30 feet from a catwalk above the auditorium’s drop ceiling onto the seats below.

Sefcheck said district officials believe a medical helicopter took the man to a Pittsburgh hospital. His injuries were minor and not life threatening, according to Sefcheck.

“It’s a miracle that he didn’t sustain greater injuries,” Sefcheck said. “He’s lucky to be alive.”

Shuker agreed: “He has a long road to recovery ahead, but very happy it wasn’t worse.”

Shuker said the man’s injuries include a broken leg, several broken bones, “injuries to his head” and other injuries. She said he was in “guarded” condition and remains hospitalized.

“He hopes the students and staff at Valley High School know he’s thinking of them, too,” Shuker said.

No faculty or staff were involved in the accident, but it was witnessed by some students in the junior class. Administrators and counselors were available for students affected by witnessing the incident.

A Christmas concert went on as scheduled in the auditorium Tuesday night. A portion of the ceiling tile was missing, with some seats below blocked off and one apparently damaged from where the man landed.

Sefcheck said district officials do not know how the accident happened. He said the district will hire a company to conduct an inspection and determine what additional safety measures could be put in place.

The district contacted its insurance carrier but had not heard back as of Wednesday, Sefcheck said.

This is not the first time a person has fallen through the auditorium’s ceiling. In March 2000, a student, senior David S. Stoklosa, fell 40 feet from a catwalk onto seats. The student was a stage crew member for the school’s musical that was rehearsing at the time, and he was replacing burned out lights in an area called the cove loft when he fell.

The student suffered ankle fractures, scrapes and bruises, but also escaped more serious injury.

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