Crews for the Lee's Summit Fire Department have recovered the body of a Windsor man killed when a trench collapsed outside a residence under construction.
Sgt. Chris Depue with Lee's Summit police said a trench collapsed outside a home on Southwest Drake Circle, just off of Southwest Ward Road. The man who was trapped in thick dirt and clay when the deep trench collapsed died.
He has been identified as Brian D. Allen, 49, of Windsor. Grieving family members including his wife, mother and daughters waited at a nearby home opened to them by a compassionate homeowner.
The incident happened about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, and it took almost 26 hours to recover Allen's body. Allen and another man were working for a Holden-based Strate Plumbing Co. to connect the sewer in the home to the street.
Chopper 5 flew over the scene Thursday afternoon and showed construction crew and firefighter activity at an area where new homes are being built. Depue said officers arrived to find a trench that was approximately 75 feet long and between 10 and 20 feet deep that had been dug from the street up to the home.
The two-man plumbing crew was connecting a pipe from the house to the city's main sewer line when the earth shifted in the trench and collapsed on the man who was working below.
Rescue crews arrived within four minutes, but they were unable to make headway in removing the man without putting themselves at risk.
"They felt like they got real close to the victim, but the earth started shifting and they were forced to retreat out of the trench," Depue said.
Allen's wife and some other family members arrived on scene about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, clearly distraught by the news.
"They felt they wanted to be here until the recovery was over," Depue said. "They are taking each step of that grieving process one step at a time and we are going to help them get through it."
Because of the precarious situation, firefighters and other workers have been using heavy equipment to try to reach Allen's body while also using a system that lowers firefighters into the trench.
Crews found the body by using hand shovels and removing dirt one small bucket at a time. They worked carefully to retrieve Allen's body.
"I don't think any of us thought we'd be here this long, but I'm glad to say we did everything right, kept everyone safe," he said.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate. The investigation, which will take up to six months to complete, will look at whether employees were adequately trained, if the employees properly shore up the trench and if they piled up the soil they removed from the trench correctly.
Strate Plumbing has no OSHA violations on its record.
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