Reporting Derek Valcourt
SEVERN, Md. (WJZ) – Buried alive. A construction worker dies in Anne Arundel County after a trench he was digging collapsed around him.
Derek Valcourt has the heartbreaking story of that man’s final moments and the frantic efforts to save him.
He was standing in an eight to nine foot hole when the walls just collapsed and buried him over his head. Witnesses say they could hear his muffled screams for help from below the ground and there was little they could do to help him.
As firefighters worked to remove the body of a 25-year-old construction worker buried under the sand, his heartbroken co-workers could only watch in stunned disbelief.
“You felt so hopeless, so helpless that he was so close to you but you couldn’t get to him,” said neighbor Ron Griffin.
When Griffin heard the screams for help coming from a neighbor’s backyard, he was among the first to start digging.
“His friends was digging, his co-worker was digging as fast as he could and we were just trying to get the sand away from the hole,” Griffin said.
Only minutes earlier, four construction workers had been digging holes to put in footers for a deck on the back of Chris Wilson’s house. That’s when the victim climbed into one of the nine foot deep holes.
“He was standing up in the hole and then because the majority of the soil is sand, it dropped down to him so every scoop that we were taking out, it seemed like four were falling back in,” Wilson said.
“His co-worker was yelling to him and we could hear him yelling back, screaming, and it was horrifying,” Griffin said. “We just kept digging and we got down to his hat and the sand just kept collapsing in and finally paramedics showed up but we couldn’t make any headway.”
The victim died underground. It took teams of firefighters from Anne Arundel and Howard counties hours to safely dig out his body.
This case is now in the hands of Maryland Occupational Safety and Health investigators, who will be looking at whether the construction company followed trench regulations. The company, called Medallion, did not return our calls for comment.
The name of the victim has not yet been released.