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State Suspends Engineer Who Designed Light Towers at Olympic Stadium

June 11, 1996 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ An engineer who designed an Olympic Stadium light tower that collapsed and killed a construction worker last year has been barred from practicing in Georgia for three years.

The state licensing board for engineers has suspended the license of Brian Miraki, who discovered the design flaw 12 days before the fatal accident, but did not push to correct it. The suspension will be followed by three years probation.

The board’s action is the first stemming from the accident that killed iron worker Jack Falls and injured a co-worker.

A federal investigation last year blamed the accident on an engineering blunder, but the Occupational Health and Safety Administration was unable to impose any penalties because Falls was not employed by the company at fault.

The state’s investigation of the accident could produce sanctions against others, said Charlene P. Dawkins, a spokeswoman for the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. Another announcement is expected within 10 days.

Miraki, who left the firm Rosser International after the accident to start his own business, did not return a telephone message left at his home Monday. Rosser is part of a joint venture that designed the $232 million stadium.

Lyn May, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, declined to comment.

Steve Jones, business manager for the Ironworkers union Local 387, said the license suspension was not enough.

``It’s not much consolation to the family and friends of Jack Falls,″ he said. ``The engineers ... are who we put our faith in that it’s safe. I would like to see it go farther as far as what they do to him.″

Miraki can seek reinstatement of his license from the board in one year.

The OSHA investigation found that the six 150-foot-tall light towers at the 85,000-seat stadium were designed to support only one-quarter of their intended weight.

According to a June 4 consent order from the licensing board released Monday, Miraki discovered on March 8, 1995, that the towers were ``over-stressed to the point of failure.″

He sent a memo to the project manager two days later reporting that the towers needed to be upgraded, but ``did not explicitly indicate ... that emergency action was required,″ the order said.

Falls fell to his death on March 20, 1995, when a lighting truss collapsed under him.

A subsequent review of the stadium by an outside engineer found numerous other needed repairs that have since been made. ACOG and the designers now are fighting in court over who will pay the $6 million repair bill.

Falls’ survivors have sued ACOG and the design team for negligence in the accident. A trial is expected next year.

David Oakes, who was seriously injured in the accident that killed Falls, also filed a negligence suit against ACOG and the design team which was settled last month for an undisclosed amount.

The stadium, which opened last month, will host the U.S. Olympic track and field trials beginning Friday. During the Summer Games, the stadium will hold the opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field competition.