EB employee ingested fluid after fall; doctors want to know what it was

The lawyer for the Electric Boat employee injured in a May 7 fall said he has "serious questions" about the initial results from testing done on the fluid she ingested after the fall.

Tanessa Pabon, 22, landed face-down in fluid after falling about 30 feet while power-washing a submarine. Her lawyer, Eric Schoenberg, an attorney with the Freeman Law Firm in Hartford, said she ingested a "large quantity" of fluid.

Pabon's doctors indicated that she has internal complications as a result of the materials she ingested and asked that the fluid be tested so they could determine how best to treat her, and to asses any long-term complications that might arise, Schoenberg said.

He made the request to EB to test the liquid, and the company provided the results on Monday. EB indicated there was limitations to what it could test for, Schoenberg said. The company tested for metals and the pH level, which was in a "very close range to fresh water," and "the components they were able to find were not alarming," he said.

"I have serious concerns about whether what was tested accurately reflects what she ingested," he said, given she was covered with a "black, sludge-like substance" following the fall.

Pabon, who was found unconscious after the fall, has credited a coworker, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on her to eject the liquid she ingested, with saving her life.

As of Friday afternoon, Pabon was still in a long-term rehabilitation facility. Her mother and stepfather have been by her side throughout and have made arrangements to take her home soon.

"She's made a lot of physical improvements, but there's still serious concerns about her current and long-term health," Schoenberg said.

He said Pabon, nor her family, are ready to talk publicly about the incident, but relayed that she "enjoyed her job" as a painter at Electric Boat, and hopes to return to work "one day."

Schoenberg has filed two workers' compensation claims on behalf of Pabon, one with the State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission and the other with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers Compensation Programs. Both are pending.

He has declined to comment on any possible legal action beyond those two claims.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hartford office started investigating a day after Pabon fell. An OSHA spokesman said EB has been cooperating with the investigation. OSHA has six months from the time of opening an investigation to issue a citation. However, not all investigations result in citations.

EB has launched its own investigation and has declined comment while it is ongoing.

j.bergman@theday.com

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