The victim, a truck driver, was delivering piping for the Pender town’s upcoming beach nourishment project

PENDER COUNTY – A Texas man delivering piping for Topsail Beach’s upcoming beach nourishment project was killed Monday when one of the large pipes rolled onto him as it was being unloaded from a trailer.


The fatal accident occurred around 11:44 a.m. at the corner of Drum Avenue and Ocean Boulevard near the southern end of the small Pender County beach town.


Topsail Beach Police Chief Samuel Gervase said the victim was Roberto Gonzalez Jr., 47, of Castroville, Texas. He was a truck driver with JIT Transport out of Laredo, Texas, which had been contracted by Weeks Marine, the company undertaking the nourishment project.


"He was unloading his truck when something happened and one of the pipes came off and rolled onto him, and he was killed instantly by the 3,000-pound pipe," the chief said. "Just a really unfortunate accident."


Several agencies, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are investigating the incident.


"The Town of Topsail Beach, its Board of Commissioners, and the entire staff extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of the victim," stated a post on the town’s Facebook page.


The nourishment project involves dredging sand from New Topsail Inlet and Banks Channel and pumping it, via a pipeline, onto the beach. According to the town’s website, the $24 million project, which is projected to pump up to 2.2-million cubic yards of sand onto the oceanfront, is scheduled to wrap up by April 30.


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