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23-year-old apprentice tragically dead after Curtin University building collapse

The 23-year-old apprentice tragically died after a Curtin University building collapsed while under construction.

A 23-year-old apprentice, Jonnie Hartshorn, died after the ceiling of a Curtin University collapsed on Tuesday, with the man falling 20 metres to the ground.

Two of the Hartshorn’s colleagues are in Royal Perth Hospital hospital this morning, with one man in critical condition after part of the ceiling fell on top of him, and the other man’s condition stable.

Curtin University, Western Australia, University
Photo: Twitter @oliviadii

The men were standing on top of the structure when it suddenly gave way without warning,” WA Police Commander Mike Bell told reporters. “He was unfortunately deceased once he fell.”

The incident occurred at a construction site on the Bentley campus around 12:30 pm local time, when Hartshorn fell through the glass ceiling. His body was recovered nine hours later due to concerns that the structure could cave in further.

The University subsequently released a statement advising that no Curtin students had been involved in the incident.

Speaking to WA Today, Damien Clancey, an Electrical Trades Union WA brand organiser who was working on a neighbouring site, spoke of how his workers could have been injured, indicating that the head contractor Lend Lease had been well aware of the issue.

They hadn’t even loaded all the glass, and a lot of the guys on site had expressed concerns,” he described. “I have got members that are working underneath until 10 minutes before it collapsed.

Other guys did all the wiring and the structure before they put the glass in and, again, accidents are accidents and no one has got a crystal ball, but it seems to me that Lend Lease was well aware of an issue to the point where they brought a surveyor out here last week to determine the levels of sag in the steel after they put about half of the glass up,” he continued.

They had reached their limit and hadn’t loaded all their glass. You’d think you’d stop then, wouldn’t you?” 

WorkSafe WA has been called in to investigate.