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One dead, 18 injured in Atlanta bridge collapse

ATLANTA - A soaring walkway being built to give visitors breathtaking views of the Atlanta Botanical Garden turned into a disaster zone when it suddenly collapsed, sending workers plummeting dozens of feet to the forest below.

One worker was killed Friday morning and at least 18 others injured, some critically.

Contractors were pouring concrete on the 'canopy walk,' which climbed as high as 40 feet, when it gave way. Witnesses described a frenzied scene of the pathway shedding dozens of workers as it tumbled to the ground.

Mike Alsip, a forensic investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office, identified the man killed as Angel Chupin, 66, of Marietta.

Electrical worker Juan Padilla said he and another worker had just started a break after installing wires under the bridge.

Then came a deafening boom.

'It sounded like an explosion,' he said, fighting back tears. 'It was so tough. I feel very lucky. Me and my partner - we could have been under the bridge.'

Atlanta Fire Battalion Chief Ken Byers said all the hurt workers were atop the bridge and none underneath when it collapsed. A popular nearby park was filled with joggers and others, but he said only laborers were at the scene when the bridge gave way about 9 a.m.

Atlanta Fire Capt. Gregory Shinkle said workers were doing concrete work at the time, but authorities had few details of what caused the collapse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said four federal investigators were looking into it.

The garden's Web site describes the skyway as the 'only canopy level pathway of its kind in the U.S.' Rising to four stories high, it was to be supported by a system of cable wires 'designed to hold the structure firm and steady without impacting tree roots' in the 30-acre garden north of downtown.