Man killed in CapX construction mishap

A fatal accident at a CapX2020 work site the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 14, resulted in a shutdown of the massive power line project near New Prague.

            Robert Fenstermacher, 28, of Oologah, OK, was killed and Jeremy Moye, 37, of Machesney, IL, was injured while working on construction of foundations for the 140-foot high-voltage power poles. The shutdown is part of an investigation into the accident, which occurred about two miles north of New Prague along Scott County Road 2 (260th Street), between Highway 21 and Drexel Avenue.

            Fenstermacher and Moye were part of a crew from Aldridge Electric, an Illinois based sub-contractor of CapX2020, working on a 50-foot hole for the foundation. A preliminary investigation by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office indicates both men were standing on a cylinder rebar cage when a strap broke causing the rebar cage and the men to fall 20 to 30 feet into the hole.

            The New Prague Fire Department was called to the scene. First Assistant Fire Chief Tom Soukup said after they arrived, two firefighters strapped on safety harnesses and were lowered into the hole with a backboard. A worker from the crew was already in the hole and a member of North Memorial Ambulance had also been lowered in. The four attached Fenstermacher to the backboard.

            "We used their (Aldridge Electric) crane and attached it to the backboard and got him out," said Soukup. The firefighters then let the ambulance crews take over.

            After Fenstermacher and Moye were removed from the hole, it was determined Fenstermacher had died of head injuries. Among his family are his wife Katie and two sons, Robert Jr., age 4, and three-week old Luke, all of Oologah.

            Alrdige Electric corporate risk manager Jeff Arnold said forensic testing will be done on the broken strap. He added it will be at least another week before they have completed their investigation. They will turn the information over to their attornies.

            North Memorial Ambulance transported Moye to Mayo Clinic Health System (hospital) in New Prague, where he was treated for his injuries and released.

            Also on site were the New Prague Police Department, North Memorial Air Ambulance and the Minnesota State Patrol. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office and OSHA are continuing to investigate the incident.

            According to Randy Fordice, Project Communications Specialist with Great River Energy/CapX2020, it was undetermined how long the shutdown of work near New Prague would last.

            "Other work proceeds," he said Tuesday, Aug. 20. That work includes the clearing of trees along the route for the power line poles north and east of New Prague and helicopters stringing power lines along Highway 169 near Belle Plaine.

            CapX2020 is a 250-mile high voltage power line project stretching from Brookings, SD, to Hampton, in Dakota County.