Man dies in American Fork after jumping into trench to rescue coworker from cave in

Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 23:18:26-04

AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- A construction worker was killed in American Fork after jumping into a trench to save a co-worker from a cave in.

The victim has only been identified as a 41-year-old man from Provo. Police say he died a hero.

"Our hearts go out to this family. Dad, husband, goes to work this morning and they expect to see him this afternoon, it's a very tragic accident," said Lt. Sam Liddiard of the American Fork Police Department.

The accident took place at the site of a future housing development at 530 South 860 East.

"It is rare, it does happen occasionally, but not very often because of those safety measures they put in place," Liddiard said.

He said workers were installing a water line when the dirt began caving in on one of the men, who was six feet down in the trench.

"The trench started to collapse and it collapsed from the bottom up, not from the top down," Liddiard said.

Co-workers immediately sprang into action.

"Another worker jumped in to help the first one, and then a third one jumped in to help him," Liddiard said.

One worker made it out unharmed while another had to be pulled to safety and was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

However, the third worker who jumped in became trapped and was stuck for more than an hour. Police compared it to being in quicksand.

"As you imagine, it's just like thick mud, and it's really just rock and debris and dirt, but it's pressure in there from that trench because it had nowhere to go," Liddiard said.

By the time firefighters reached the worker, he was dead. They found him lying on his back. Police say there should be safety measures in place to prevent this sort of accident. OSHA is conducting their own investigation.

"There's safety measures for them to do, they have to follow, and that's something OSHA will look at to make sure they had all those safety practices in place," Liddiard said.

According to police, the developer is Vollkomen Construction based out of Provo. Fox 13 attempted to speak with them, but their offices were closed.

Police said all construction work at the site has been suspended until the investigation regarding this death is complete.