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Construction worker killed in trench collapse

He was just 27 years old when his life came to an end in a construction accident about 160 miles west of New York City, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The construction worker was apparently buried alive under at least 10 feet of dirt, according to local media reports.

He had gone into a hole to connect water lines being installed by his work crew. According to CBS News, "the hole wasn't properly secured" with braces to prevent a collapse of its walls.

By the time rescuers arrived on the scene, it was too late to save the man. According to the report, emergency workers had to stop the man's fellow workers from attempting to dig him out with their bare hands. Because of the reported lack of braces and supports in the trench, they risked further collapse and an even greater tragedy by digging.

The chief of the town's fire department said, "For us emotionally, it is still difficult to tell someone we're not gonna save this person. Come out here, they're already deceased. For the co-workers in this case and in many cases that are in the trench, feverishly trying to get this person out, that is certainly not what they want to hear. They want to stay in there and work."

The company the man worked for was building underground infrastructure as part of a residential and commercial development in Manheim.

Why would anyone send a man into a trench without first putting safety devices in place? That's the kind of question the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators will be trying to answer in coming days, as will the man's family and friends as they try to cope with this tragic and apparently preventable loss.

Source: CBS News: "27 year old killed in trench collapse" by Ben Russell: June 21, 2011

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