“It’s getting deep,” is the text a worker sent to his girlfriend two hours before a 12-foot deep trench collapsed and killed him, according to a lawyer for his family.
James Rogers, 33, of Winchester, Ohio, died from asphyxiation and “mechanical chest compression,” according to a death certificate.
Rogers sent the text which included a photo of the trench at 11:24 a.m. on June 15. Police say 911 was called at 1:44 p.m.
His girlfriend responded to his text at 11:26 a.m.: “OMG babe be smart! And safe.”
Rogers was working for KRW Plumbing in Washington Township, near Dayton.
Craig Matthews, a lawyer for Rogers’ family, released information regarding the incident and text to the Dayton Daily News. The family is weighing legal options in the case.
OSHA is investigating. It can take up to six months for the agency’s investigation results to become public.
It took rescuers more than seven hours to recover Rogers’ body.
Matthews calculates Rogers was covered by more than 800 cubic feet of clay and wet dirt weighing about 91,000 pounds (45.5 tons).
The Dayton Daily News says KRW owner, Rick Williams, initially didn’t tell the truth about the depth of the trench. The newspaper reports Williams told sheriff’s officials the trench was seven feet deep.
However, when OSHA showed up, Williams admitted the trench was 12 feet deep, according to sheriff’s office records.
As far as potential OSHA violations go, whether the trench was 7 or 12 feet deep wouldn’t matter. Trenches more than five feet deep need collapse protection.
An OSHA spokesman says more time will be needed to determine whether anyone was criminally liable in this case.
OSHA has recently put more emphasis on referring worker death cases for potential criminal prosecution.
Earlier this summer, a New York City-area construction company was convicted of five counts, including second-degree manslaughter, in connection with the death of a worker who was crushed to death when an unshored 13-foot deep trench collapsed. The judge sentenced Harco Construction LLC to produce a TV public service announcement. The company is fighting the conviction and sentence.