Workers freed in Macomb trench collapse

Mark Hicks

Emergency crews rescued two men who were partially buried after a trench collapsed at a residential construction site Monday afternoon in Chesterfield Township.

The two men apparently were digging a foundation on Edgewater and preparing to pour concrete when the trench wall caved in about 2:45 p.m., police Chief Bradley Kersten said.

The second worker was pulled out at about 6 p.m. and transported for treatment, township fire Chief Doug Charbonneau said. The first worker was pulled from the hole between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Both workers had been laboring about 10 feet below ground level without a proper trench box and risked death if the heavy clay and dirt covered their chests, Charbonneau said. “They were very lucky.”

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration was expected to investigate the incident, Charbonneau said.

Firefighters and a county technical team rushed to the scene at about 2:45 p.m. Monday to free the men, who were buried to their hips, Kersten said.

One, identified as in his 50s, was transported to a hospital. His condition was not available but the worker had been alert and conscious, Kersten said.

The worker who was pulled out last also was conscious and helping first responders clear the earth around him.

Crews blocked the edge of Anchor and Jefferson; once the men were removed from the trench, residents allowed to return to their homes.

Among them was Matthew English, who lives on another street and waited along the roadside for more than three hours.

The collapse was a surprise but produced, he believed, by recent weather and soil conditions.

“They have to take the proper precautions to make sure nothing happens,” he said. “It’s been really wet around here — a lot of rain.”