Cousin of uptown construction worker talks about deadly fall

Updated: May. 25, 2018 at 8:39 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - While a man's deadly 19-story fall from a construction site at South Tryon and Stonewall Streets is still under multiple investigations, his cousin was there to witness it all.

"I feel really sad, and heartbroken," Jose Mata told WBTV through a Spanish-English translator.

Mata says he was on the construction elevator with his cousin Juventino Mata-Hernandez, but Mata got off on the 14th floor.

"And then [Juventino] was helping an electrician get off on the 19th floor," he says.

But those were the last moments for his cousin. Mata heard a commotion above him.

"The elevator started to shake," he says. "And he was thrown out. At that point, I don't know anymore, and I still don't believe what happened."

What happened – the 24-year-old father of a 3-year-old little girl fell 19 floors to his death.

"That's when I noticed his vest was there," Mata says. "And I didn't even know who it was."

But he soon learned it was his cousin - the one who he enjoyed working alongside, who he had moved from Mexico with two years ago.

"He had big plans to work hard, make money, and be successful at something," Mata says.

The fall is being investigated by the Department of Labor and OSHA. It could take months for an official cause of the incident.

Meanwhile, Mata remembers the cousin he lost.

"He was always smiling and easy going…everyone is mourning, very sad."

Mata says he had heard the elevator may have been having issues earlier in the week but had not seen it for himself. He has not returned to the construction site since.

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