Man dead after roof collapses in Brigham City

Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-27 20:42:12-05

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah - A man is dead after the roof of a Kmart in Brigham City collapsed on Tuesday.

Dale Smith, Brigham City Fire Department, said that construction crews were on the roof of the old Kmart store at 990 South Main Street conducting a planned demolition at around 3 p.m.

Crews said 38-year-old Saofai Sautia from Sandy went to use the restroom inside the building when the roof unexpectedly came down early.

Other workers retreated back off the rooftop for the demolition when the roof collapsed sooner than they'd anticipated.

Crews were unable to locate Sautia and began searching in the rubble for him at around 3:20 p.m.

"One had left the roof for an undisclosed reason, and as the roof gave way, the one person who was unaccounted for was on inside and did became trapped," said Michael Young, Brigham City Fire Department.

Emergency crews used saws and other tools to clear the debris and locate Sautia. He was found dead on the scene.

The company is charge of the demolition said the victim was not an employee of theirs; he was contracted to work on the building.

Craig Baker, Sautia's brother-in-law, says Sautia had called work dispatchers on Tuesday morning warning them that there was too much snow and ice on the roof of the building.

"I think the response was, 'We'll leave it up to you, you're the experts on the ground and have more information than we do,'" Baker said.

Now Sautia's family is wondering why he went against his own advice and went inside the building to use the bathroom despite the potential danger.

"We just want some resolution and perhaps there were people who spoke with [Sautia] and provide us with some insight of why he was where he was and knowing what he knew about this work which is admittedly dangerous," Baker said.

Sautia leaves behind a wife and three daughters, ages 13, 8 and 3.

Utah's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the incident to determine what caused the roof to come down early, as well as any possible violations.