News Briefs: Unshored 15-Foot Trench Collapses, Kills Worker

In this week's sewer and water news, one trench collapse in Maryland kills a construction worker, and a second worker is lucky to escape with his life after a similar collapse in Alberta

Two trench-collapse stories with two very different outcomes surfaced this past week. First, in Baltimore, Maryland, a 15-foot-deep excavated trench collapsed and killed a 20-year-old construction worker named Kyle Hancock.

The proper safety shoring wasn’t installed in the trench Hancock was working in, according to authorities. He was fixing a sewer line when the walls caved in.

Rescue personnel retrieved two other workers without incident, but spent 10 hours digging before they found Hancock’s body. Baltimore officials suspended the city’s contract with R.F. Warder’s — the company Hancock worked for — citing safety concerns.

Meanwhile, the second trench-collapse out of Edmonton, Alberta, could have turned out much worse than it did. An employee working to install a shoring cage was buried up to his neck after the walls of a trench gave way.

He was trapped for nearly three hours while a fellow construction worker scooped sand and debris away from his face and made sure he was breathing.

Coincidentally, Edmonton Fire Rescue personnel had been practicing trench rescues that same day, and they freed the man and sent him to the hospital. He was unharmed and returned to work a day later.

In Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, police arrested a man accused of stealing cash out of a public utility payment drop-box. The man was identified by multiple people after authorities released a surveillance video of the theft.

The saga started when officials in the Lafourche Parish Water District got a few calls from customers claiming their account showed no records for payments they’d dropped off. Surveillance video showed the customers dropping off the payments, and also showed the suspect returning a number of times with and without disguises to take payments from the box.

In other news, the state of Michigan enacted a new Lead and Copper Rule that requires the removal of all lead service lines in the state.

Michigan is the first state in the U.S. to mandate universal replacement of lead service lines, and it also bans partial service line replacement due to its potential to increase the effects of lead contamination.

“These new protections can never make up for the disaster in Flint,” Cyndi Roper, policy advocate for the National Resources Defense Council, says in an NRDC blog. “And while they don’t solve the whole problem, they help ensure that other communities are better protected moving forward. Getting lead services lines out of the ground is the most effective way to reduce the potential for dangerous water contamination.”


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