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2 employees die after 'cascade' of granite traps them

Evan James Carter
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Two employees died Monday after slabs of granite fell on them at a granite and marble wholesaler, authorities say.

Sterling Heights police were dispatched to Stone Warehouse of Michigan on 19 Mile in Sterling Heights at about 2:30 p.m. after the two were crushed, Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said. 

A statement Tuesday from the Sterling Heights Fire Department shed light on the fatal accident, which started as employees used an overhead crane to move several granite slabs.

"When those slabs were lifted off their storage rack, several other slabs of granite shifted, causing a cascade of several more slabs of granite shifting," the fire department statement said. "In that process, both employees were pinned, immediately suffering fatal injuries."

The victims were a 30-year-old man from Warren and a 53-year-old man from Shelby Township. A day after the fatal accident, authorities haven't released their names.

Stone Warehouse of Michigan

The slabs weighed about 1,000 pounds each and measure 5 feet wide and 8 feet long, said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin, the Associated Press reported.

It took hours for firefighters to carry out the recovery effort. The first victim was removed from the scene at 6 p.m., and the second was pulled out at 9 p.m. 

The city said that nearby businesses assisted the recovery with equipment and personnel.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene. 

A message left for staff at the shop was not returned Monday and a reporter was asked to leave the property. Stone Warehouse declined comment again Tuesday.

According to Michigan State University's Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation, at least 81 people have died in Michigan in 2019 from injuries suffered at the workplace, in incidents ranging from workplace accidents to homicides to suicides. That number doesn't include Monday's incident.

Staff Writer Francis X. Donnelly contributed.