Most construction accidents are pretty clear-cut. A worker falls or gets ran over by a piece of heavy equipment. In a scene that sounds like something from a science fiction movie, a construction worker fell off an underground pipe and got sucked into the earth as the ground gave way. Only his hand could be seen and although a co-worker grabbed onto it, he could not pull the man up.
This freak construction accident happened on the afternoon of Jan. 2 in Ruskin, several hours outside Miami. Three workers were walking on an underground pipe when one of the men literally was sucked into the ground below. The ground closed in as he sank down. His hand protruded from the earth, but quickly disappeared.
Rescue crews arrived, and they used a microphone to listen for any sounds coming from the earth below. Crews started to dig several hours later, removing water from the pouring rain. They used vacuum trucks to suck up mud and water. After an eight-hour rescue effort, the man’s body was found about eight feet under the ground.
It would take more than two hours to remove the 54-year-old man. An autopsy will be performed, but it appears as though he died from suffocation. There was no clear reason as to why the ground gave way, but it is believed that the sinkhole was caused by recent digging and heavy rains.
This is a rare type of construction site accident. Could the construction company be to blame? Safety protocols would have ensured that the ground was safe before allowing to workers to walk on pipe above it. While the victim’s family could be eligible to receive some compensation from the state’s workers’ compensation program, an experienced attorney may be able to help the family seek other compensation from the man’s employer.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Body found of man who fell in ground at Ruskin water treatment plant” Will Hobson, Jan. 02, 2014