A staff of the Saipan Mayor's Office who was cutting branches of pine trees on Capital Hill Thursday afternoon on a bucket truck suffered severe injuries to the spinal cord when the truck's arm suddenly broke, plunging him 60 to 70 feet to the edge of a rooftop of a one-story government building.
The only thing that stopped Lawrence Fleming from crashing to the ground was the safety harness that was wrapped around his body and hooked to the truck, Saipan Tribune learned from witnesses.
The strong impact of the bucket's fall to the edge of the rooftop threw the 54-year-old Fleming from the bucket, leaving him hanging in the air about 8 to 10 feet from the ground.
Six co-workers helped lower the victim, who was then transported by an ambulance to the Commonwealth Health Center.
The impact of the fall broke Fleming's back. He also suffered bruises all over his body. It was learned that he will be taken to the Philippines on Aug. 8 for a scheduled spinal operation on Aug. 10 at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.
Fleming was cutting branches of trees near a government building located across the Workforce Investment Agency's office when the accident happened between 1:15pm to 1:30pm.
Observers asked yesterday why the incident was not reported to the media. They also inquired why the bucket truck was immediately removed from the scene before an investigation by the police and Occupational Safety and Health Administration was even completed.
It was not immediately learned if Fleming is covered by workmen's compensation or if the Saipan Mayor's Office has obtained one for its personnel.