Driver complained of brake issue

STEUBENVILLE – The driver of a tracked pipe loader who was killed in a pipeline construction accident Thursday had complained earlier in the day the brakes on the piece of equipment weren’t working properly, according to a report at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Jesse A. Grimsley, 31, of Shevlin, Minn., was pronounced dead at the scene of the construction accident off Seven Creeks Road in Island Creek Township, the sheriff’s department reported.

Chief Deputy John Parker said Grimsley was driving a tracked pipe loader and had just dropped a section of pipe off at the top of the hill around 10:15 a.m. Thursday and was backing the loader down the hill.

Parker said the victim thought the loader was going into the pipeline ditch in the hillside and tried to jump off the equipment. But Grimsley’s foot got caught in the track and he fell backward and hit the back of his head, Parker said, adding the man had a severe gash to the back of his head.

Grimsley had filed a daily equipment check on Thursday that noted “brakes will not hold on hill,” according to the sheriff’s department report.

A fellow worker said the machine was traveling down the hill, a deputy said. When the machine reached a plateau, the sound of the machine changed and he could hear the metal tracks “take off,” the sheriff’s department report stated. The fellow worker said the machine was traveling very fast down the hill, a deputy said.

The worker didn’t see Grimsley attempt to jump off the machine, a deputy said. The worker told the deputy he saw the machine stop in a group of trees with the accelerator “running wide open.”

Grimsley was working for Sheehan Pipeline Construction of Tulsa, Okla. The company has a local office in Wellsburg.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was contacted by the sheriff’s department about the fatality.