Tragedy at CERN

By JoAnne Hewett | October 25, 2005 9:44 pm

Breaking news, very serious, hot off the email. A technician was killed in the ATLAS pit at CERN today. Apparently a crane dropped a load on him. It happened at 17:30 local time. All underground areas were closed immediately. There will be an investigation.

ATLAS (technical home page, public home page) is one of the two very large high energy physics detectors being built for the Large Hadron Collider. It is being built in a large cavernous collider hall far underground where collisions at the LHC will take place. This hall is located just outside of the main gate at CERN.

This is a tragedy for everyone involved. My deepest sympathies for the technician’s family.

  • Sean

    That’s awful news. I’ve been to the ATLAS pit, and it’s an awe-inspiring sight, but there must be a certain amount of danger in working with such huge machinery.

  • Asher

    Oh dear, that’s terrible.

    In my experience–I worked in the LHCb (once Delphi) pit this summer–the technicians were very competent, so I hope this was just a terrible accident. There is so much that can go wrong down there. There was a plaque by the elevator at the LHCb pit that was in memorial of the seven (I believe) people who died on the construction of LEP and associated experiments.

  • Plato

    There is a rule of thumb for suspended loads, even in high research areas like this one. It’s a safety factor that should be embedded, much like any enterprise that handles such large equipment.

    Any tragedy like this one is awful, and my condolences as well.

  • M

    I think it didn’t happen in the ATLAS pit, but in the tunnel somewhere.

    Doesn’t make it better for the victim and his family, but maybe will ease the minds of those who know ATLAS technicians.

  • Sean

    The CERN website now has a short message from the Director-General.

  • Ben

    Lesson: it’s better to be a physicist than a technician.

  • Kasper Olsen

    A very sad story – I have many friends from the Bohr Institute and other places, which are working on the ATLAS project and therefore in turn, also the LHC project, which could prove to be one of the most important science-projects of 20XY.

    My heartfelt condolences to family and friends involved…

  • Aaron

    Oh no!!! :'(

  • Ben L

    This really is awful news. As important as science is, this should never happen.


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