The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 20, 2012


By The Building Tradesman

Painter falls from Ambassasor Bridge

Kent Morton, a 27-year-old member of Painters Local 42, fell on Jan. 11 from the Ambassador Bridge on  into the Detroit River. He was painting the bridge for Seaway Painting.

A nautical search by the Detroit Police Dive Team and the Coast Guard failed to find Mr. Morton as we went to press.

“He had been working on painting the bridge on and off, for about three years,” said his brother Shane Morton, a Plumbers Local 98 member. “He never mentioned being nervous at all working up there.”

Mr. Morton fell into 36-degree water from a height of approximately 150 feet. He was seen struggling in the water for a period of time after he fell.

Kent’s family include his seven-year-old daughter Makayla; his girlfriend pregnant with their child; his mother, Fawn Salvatore, and brother Shane is among three siblings. Kent’s stepfather and uncle are also union painters. His grandfather, Bob Zube, is a Local 98 member and a plumbing inspector in Dearborn. An uncle and a cousin are also Local 98 members. Collections were taken up to assist the family during a Plumbers 98 membership meeting and among workers at the Marathon project in Detroit.

Painters District Council No. 22 has also set up a fund to help Kent’s family. Donations can be sent to the DC 22 Kent Morton Memorial Fund, c/o Huntington National Bank, m9120, 30068 Schoenherr Rd, Warren, MI 48088.

“The men and women of the IUPAT (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) mourn the loss of such a bright young man who had so much of his life ahead of him,” said Tim Stricker, special trustee of Painters DC 22. “District Council 22 continues to stand by and support the Morton family in their time of grief. We are also praying and hoping that the recovery effort is successful so Kent’s family can find some closure and begin the healing process. The council continues to fully cooperate and participate in the investigation of this tragic accident.”

What went wrong on the bridge is unclear. MIOSHA will be conducting an investigation.

“Kent was a giving person, a hard worker, and an all-around great guy,” Shane said last week of his brother as he waited on the river’s edge while recovery crews did their work. “He was also a terrific father. A bunch of people whose names I don’t know have been more than helpful as we’ve waited. The people who have taken up collections, and the Ambassador Bridge people, they’ve been amazing.”

Construction wages take a tumble

Year-to-year date from November 2010 to November 2011 showed real average weekly earnings for all construction workers dropped 1.8 percent, according to the Construction Labor Report.

The report, based on statistics released Dec. 16 by the Labor Department, found that average weekly earnings for construction workers fell to $935.75 per week.