SUGARCREEK TWP. — A man who was trapped in a collapsed trench at a construction site had already died by the time first responders arrived, said an off-duty firefighter who called 911.
Beavercreek Twp. Fire Battalion Chief Nathan Hiester was enjoying his day off and enjoying the weather when his neighbor stopped by.
The neighbor told Hiester that he noticed a backhoe had been running for a long time without moving at a new home being built a block.
“He just stopped to talk to me in the driveway and asked if I had noticed the same thing,” Hiester said.
Hiester’s son went to check it out and found Dalbert Burton, trapped and unresponsive in a trench.
Crews found out while they were on the way to the scene that the rescue was a recovery.
Hiester’s coworker, Lt. Tyson Dean, is on the special team trained in trench rescue.
He told News Center 7 that Burton was at the bottom of a 14-foot trench.
He was working alone and firefighters said there was nothing shoring up the walls of dirt.
“Extraordinarily dangerous,” Dean said. “There are standards and OSHA regulations about how — at what depth you need to start using that shoring and 14 feet is beyond that.
Burton’s family said they’ve thought about his last moments.
“We just hope it was quick,” said his son, Cody.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating how Burton died.
“They are now involved as of yesterday afternoon,” said Sugarcreek Twp. Police Sgt. Mark White. “They will complete their own investigations to the matter in terms of safety compliance.
OSHA will take up to six months to complete the investigation, issue citations and propose penalties if violations are found, said Scott Allen, OSHA spokesperson.
Family identified the man as Burton, a married father of three and grandfather of two.
“We just celebrated our 24th anniversary,” his wife, Angel Burton, said.
“A neighbor in the area noticed that the piece of heavy equipment was running all day and didn’t see anyone around it, so they went to investigate. They noticed somebody in the bottom. They shut down the equipment and called 911,” said Michael Guadagno, coordinator of the regional technical rescue and a battalion chief for the Washington Twp. Fire Department
Guadagno said it had been up to four hours since the last time anyone spoke to or saw the victim above ground.