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Pittsburgh Mother of Three Crushed By Steel Cylinder That Weighed Nearly a Ton After It Broke Free from Construction Site; GoFundMe Raises Nearly $100,000

Pittsburgh city officials said a woman was killed by a steel cylinder that somehow broke away from a construction site, rolled down a hill, and struck her as she was walking on a sidewalk.

Authorities say 51-year-old Aleia Lopez suffered “catastrophic injuries” after being hit by a large metal cylinder on May 3.

Aleia Lopez, 51, was killed after being struck by a runaway steel cylinder that weighed nearly a ton and broke loose from a construction site, rolled down a hill, and hit her as she was walking on a sidewalk. (Photo: GoFundMe)

After the tube came loose from some construction apparatus, police say it broke through construction fencing before hitting the resident of the city’s North Side as she was walking with some colleagues. It continued rolling down the street before coming to rest by a pickup truck. A city spokesperson said the cylinder weighed at least a ton.

Bystanders tried to perform life-saving measures after calling 911 and EMS teams. Five minutes later, first responders showed up, discovering that Lopez suffered a grave head injury. They also tried rendering medical aid but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene.

The city of Pittsburgh, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as Costa Contracting are investigating the incident, the New York Post reports.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the tube was part of a University of Pittsburgh construction site where a performance complex is being built.

Lopez was employed at the university’s psychiatric hospital.

“While this was not a UPMC construction site, this tragedy impacts our campuses and we are providing support services to our employees,” according to a statement from UPMC. “Our deepest sympathies are with the victim’s family, friends and colleagues.”

No one else was hurt in the accident.

Distraught by news of the accident, Lopez’s mother, Melanie Hall, told WPXI that she tried to call her daughter after seeing reports of the incident on the afternoon news.

“It could have happened to anybody. It just happened to my child today,” Hall told the news outlet. “I’m just glad no babies were hurt. No other children were hurt.”

She said Lopez was the bedrock of her family and a source of strength for her three kids. Hall said that her 14-year-old son even asked Lopez to stay home from work that day so they could spend some quality time together.

“He didn’t want her to go to work today. He thought if she stayed home, they would watch movies together and have quality time,” Hall said. “And he is so broken up because she didn’t stay home. He felt if he just listened to him, she’d still be here.”

Hall started a GoFundMe to help raise money for Lopez’s funeral expenses. It exceeded its $50,000 goal, raising over $90,000 as of May 8.

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