Body of immigrant worker who fell off bridge into Lake Hickory found

Site of bridge work where drowning occurred
Site of bridge work where drowning occurred WBTV

Rescue crews have located the body of a construction worker who fell off a Lake Hickory bridge and drowned early Tuesday.

The Catawba County Sheriff’s Department identified the drowning victim as Filgonio Bravo Perez.

Perez, who was from Guatemala, was painting the bridge over the lake on Highway 127 when he fell, reports the Observer’s news partner WBTV.

Co-workers say they were using fencing material for the platform along the side of the bridge, and were supposed to be wearing flotation vests and safety harnesses. The worker who fell in was wearing a safety harness, but coworkers say his harness was not hooked up to the safety line. He also was not wearing a flotation vest, WBTV reported.

Witnesses say the Perez was pulling fencing material down when he fell back and into the water.

Hickory city officials say one or more coworkers went into the water after Perez, but were unable to locate him. It happened at 1:53 a.m.. Tuesday on the North Center Street bridge over the Catawba River at Lake Hickory. The bridge, just north of Hickory, connects Catawba and Alexander counties.

The victim is reportedly an employee of an independent contractor working on the bridge project, and not a staff member of the N.C. Department of Transportation, officials said.