Worker Dies After Falling 4 Stories Off Roof Of Old Nowata Hotel
NOWATA, Oklahoma - A Green Country man fell four stories to his death while working on a historic hotel that's stood in Nowata since just after statehood.
Jesus Martinez had been working on the roof of the old Savoy Hotel for much of the summer as part of a big renovation project.
Police say Martinez was familiar with the layout of the roof, so they're not sure why or how he fell.
The windows and doors are boarded shut, and as it looks now, the old Savoy Hotel leaves a lot to the imagination. It was built in the early 1900s, during Nowata's oil and gas boom. In the 40s, the Savoy served as a county hospital.
As time went on, the landmark's age caught up with it, and like many old downtown buildings, it started to fall apart.
A new owner bought the building a couple years ago and began renovations. The first order of business was repairing the heavily damaged roof.
"It's a brand new roof. They just completed it and that's why they were painting it," said Nowata Police Chief Mike McElhaney.
But the very thing that was breathing new life into the Savoy is now marked by death.
McElhaney said 38-year-old Jesus Martinez was working alone when he fell 40 feet from the roof of the building.
A cable worker discovered Martinez around 10:20 Tuesday morning.
Silver paint from Martinez's brush was lying next to him on the sidewalk when police showed up.
"The handle was snapped in half and there was personal items strewn throughout the area," McElhaney said.
Since no one was around, McElhaney said figuring out what caused Martinez to fall isn't going to be easy.
"We can't determine how it happened, we just know he did come over the side," he said. "This is a terrible incident and I hate it for the family."
McElhaney said Martinez had children and lived in Bartlesville, but had spent enough time in Nowata recently that he had become a part of that community as well.
"People here knew him and everybody I've talked to like him a lot," McElhaney said.
Police say Martinez normally had help, but a co-worker called in sick Tuesday.
We spoke with the building's owner Wednesday, who called the accident a horrible tragedy.