Feb. 14--Changing a jetway tire is usually a routine task for airport maintenance workers.
But on Tuesday, three veteran mechanics at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were injured -- two of them critically -- when a 225-pound tire and wheel exploded, airport officials said.
Richard "Rick" Hernandez, 49, of Davie, and Kevin Scott, 52, of Hollywood, were rushed to Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, where, late Tuesday, they were listed in critical condition. Jeffrey Jugis, 47, of Hallandale Beach, suffered minor injuries during the explosion.
Broward County Aviation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have launched investigations to find out what caused the accident, officials said.
CHANGING A TIRE
What they know now is that the three men were changing a tire on the jetway -- the movable boarding bridge that connects a plane to the airport terminal -- at 9:50 a.m. at Terminal 1. That's when the tire blew out, went up into the air, and struck the workers.
The impact threw the men, according to the sheriff's office.
BSO firefighters and fire-rescue workers responded immediately to the jetway.
Hernandez and Scott were rushed to the hospital as trauma patients.
Hernandez, a 19-year employee of the airport, suffered arm and shoulder injuries. Scott, who has worked at the airport for two decades, sustained multiple lower extremity fractures. Jugis, an airport employee for 11 years, received minor injuries.
With 57 jetways at the airport -- each of them with two wheels and tires -- changing the equipment happens quite often without incident, said Greg Meyer, an airport spokesman.
"This is a standard procedure," he said.
Tony Campos, a compliance officer with the area OSHA office, declined comment on this case. But he acknowledged that working with tires and other compressed air gear can be risky.
"Of course it's dangerous," he said. "That's why we have standards."
IN THE TERMINAL
The explosion caught the attention of travelers inside the terminal.
Among them: Glen Fisher, who arrived at the airport on a flight from New York.
Fisher said he stopped when he saw the commotion.
"They looked bloody," Fisher said of the injured workers. "It was two guys laying on the ground."
The three men were changing a tire on the jetway at Terminal 1 when the tire blew out, went up into the air, and struck the workers. The impact threw the men.
Feb. 14--Changing a jetway tire is usually a routine task for airport maintenance workers. But on Tuesday, three veteran mechanics at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were...
Smoky haze was reported in the cabin as plane made its descent Sunday
Thousands of $38.50 citations are issued each year to people who pull over on the side of the road leading to the airport -- a no-no in the age of heightened post-9/11 security.