NIH employee dies after falling through hospital air shaft

An employee of the National Institutes of Health was pronounced dead Jan. 10 after falling through an air shaft on the Bethesda, Md.-based Clinical Center campus.

Akwasi Addae, 45, was an electrician for the NIH and was working on the exterior of the building when the incident occurred, an NIH spokesperson confirmed to Becker's Jan. 11. Mr. Addae fell into an air handling shaft, which Montgomery County Fire and Rescue workers described to Montgomery Community Media as leading to an "underground vault."

Responders estimate that Mr. Addae fell between 20 and 30 feet, according to DCNewsNow. Officials say it appeared that he was walking or standing on the grate, but they are unsure why. 

The NIH Division Occupational Health and Safety reported the accident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Both parties will investigate the incident to help determine the cause and ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and followed, per the NIH spokesperson. 

The NIH will also offer grief support to Mr. Addae's colleagues and first responders, the spokesperson said.

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