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'Everyone is mourning.' Cousin recalls man who fell from construction elevator.

Investigators observe the scene of a death in a fall at an uptown Charlotte office building under construction,  part of the Legacy Union development, on the former Charlotte Observer site on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
Investigators observe the scene of a death in a fall at an uptown Charlotte office building under construction, part of the Legacy Union development, on the former Charlotte Observer site on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. mwalsh@charlotteobserver.com

While a man’s fatal 19-story fall from a construction elevator in uptown Charlotte remains under investigation, his cousin said he saw it happen and is "really sad and heartbroken."

Speaking through a translater, Jose Mata said he was on the elevator with his 24-year-old cousin, Juventino Mata-Hernandez, but got off on the 14th floor of the office tower under construction at 620 S. Tryon St.

“And then (Juventino) was helping an electrician get off on the 19th floor," Mata said.

Mata said he heard a commotion above him. “The elevator started to shake,” he said. “And he was thrown out. At that point, I don’t know anymore, and I still don’t believe what happened.”

He next saw a body with a vest on the ground.

Mata said he always enjoyed working beside his cousin, who has a 3-year-old daughter and moved from Mexico two years ago.

"“He had big plans to work hard, make money and be successful at something,” Mata said.

The fall is being investigated by the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The inquiry into what happened could take months.

"“He was always smiling and easy-going," Mata said. "… Everyone is mourning, very sad.”

The construction site is part of the Legacy Union development, on the former Charlotte Observer site. Workers are building a 33-story office tower, most of which has been leased by Bank of America. The project is being developed by Lincoln Harris and Goldman Sachs.

WBTV is a news partner of The Charlotte Observer.

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