Worker dies in Sterling Heights trench collapse

George Hunter, and Mark Hicks

A construction worker died after a trench in which he was working collapsed Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Sterling Heights police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said his officers got a call at about 1:30 p.m. Monday about the incident at an abandoned motel at 42371 Mound near 19 Mile.

“We were told workers were digging a trench, doing underground prep work, when the trench collapsed,” Dwojakowski said.

The contract worker was trying to tap off a sewer line. He appeared to have been working alone when heavy clay buried him, said Sterling Heights fire Chief Chris Martin.

The trench did not seem to have been shored properly at the time, Martin said.

“This was an abandoned motel (that has) been unoccupied for years,” Dwojakowski said. “The crew was getting ready to demolish the building and were prepping the area when the collapse happened.”

Sterling Heights police and fire, along with the Macomb County Technical Rescue Team, worked to save the man, Dwojakowski said.

His body was recovered after 5 p.m. in an area about 11 feet below ground, Martin said. Emergency personnel pronounced him dead at the scene.

Authorities were not identifying the worker or releasing details until next of kin were notified, Martin said.

Meanwhile, Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the incident, he said.

MIOSHA representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN