HSR construction site accident may leave Fresno man permanently paralyzed

Jerry Ouellette suffered a number of broken bones and vertebrae injuries

MADERA COUNTY, California - An iron worker may never walk again after a serious accident at a California High-Speed Rail construction site in Madera County. The worker's nephew and legal counsel said Jerry Ouellette broke a number of his bones and suffered injuries to his vertebrae.

When asked about his uncle, Josh Escovedo said, "I suppose he's as good as he could be expected to be after the severity of the incident."

Over Skype, Escovedo then went on to detail his uncle's injuries.

"He is in a neck brace and he's flat on his back in the hospital bed. He still can't feel anything from his chest down," he said.

Construction was halted for a bit Tuesday when rebar fell at the HSR construction site off of Avenue 7. Escovedo said witnesses told him the rebar fell when the equipment holding it either broke or slipped.

On Thursday, construction has since resumed. In a statement, HSR said safety is their top priority. Cal/OSHA is investigating what happened and Escovedo's firm -- Weintraub Tovin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation -- is also conducting its own independent investigation.

Escovedo said right now his uncle's health is the main focus.

"If there is any chance that he'll be able to walk again -- and his surgeons aren't hopeful -- we want to make sure that he gets the necessary care," he said. "We want his recovery to be as smooth as possible."

This is the second accident resulting in injury at a high-speed rail construction site in the area. In November, two workers were sent to the hospital after rebar fell on them. Those workers had non-life threatening injuries.

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