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Worker injured

Billings fire, police and an AMR ambulance were on the scene after a worker was injured when he was struck by a falling concrete column at the Community Leadership & Development, Inc. housing project in the former Labor Temple at South 29th Street and 1st Avenue South Tuesday morning. The low income housing project is being completed with a $1.1 million grant from Greg Gianforte.

The Billings man who died after an apparent accident at a construction site on the city's South Side Tuesday has been identified.

David Shepard, 39, died after a large concrete column fell on him while he was working at the former Labor Temple Hall, which is undergoing renovations as part of a Community Leadership & Development Inc. housing project.

He was identified by Yellowstone County Deputy Coroner Rich Hoffman. His cause of death has not yet been determined, Hoffman said Wednesday morning.

County coroner Cliff Mahoney added that the death was "without a doubt" accidental.

Shepard was an employee with Billings-based Fisher Construction Inc., which is the general contractor for the construction project.

"It's been very difficult, especially for the guys on-site," company co-owner and vice president Brent Sumner said Wednesday. "David was a good, hardworking guy and he was pretty well liked. It's always hard to lose a friend."

Hired about five months earlier as a carpenter, Shepard was a "jack of all trades," doing jobs from woodworking to demolition to framing, Sumner added.

He said it wasn't yet clear how the horizontal concrete beam broke away from the building's exterior Tuesday morning. Only one side had broken free, causing it to swing down and apparently hit Shepard in the head.

No one from Fisher Construction witnessed the accident, Sumner said.

"In all honesty, we don't know why David was where he was," Sumner said. "At this point, we're just kind of trying to pick up the pieces, do what we can to help his family and help our guys move on."

Inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Billings office arrived at the construction site to begin an investigation Tuesday morning, Billings Area Director Art Hazen said Wednesday.

No additional details of the incident are available from the agency at the time, Hazen said. The investigation could take up to six months to complete.

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Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.