Worker killed in trench collapse was alone without backup, officials say

Authorities confirm Monday a worker killed when a Sterling Heights trench collapsed was down there alone without any back up in case something went wrong.

"There are steps that contractors can take to make it safe and that wasn't done here," said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin.

Why a construction worker was alone in this 12 foot deep trench is a question investigators are working to get answered.

Construction worker killed in Sterling Heights trench collapse

"There were several safety practices that weren't instituted and that's what got us to this point," Martin said.

He says that major mistake cost the life of a Sterling Heights man at a construction site off Mound Road near 18 1/2 Mile Road. He was apparently contracted to tap into the city's water line.

"He was digging a trench and he was down there trying to connect to the water pipe and he did not shore up the walls and the trench collapsed on him," Martin said.

Martin tells FOX 2 the contractor who hired the man was on site when the walls caved in but it was too late. The rescue effort by the Macomb County Technical Rescue Team soon turned into a body recovery effort.

"He was about 11 1/2, 12 feet down in some kind of mucky wet clay," Martin said.

They're not releasing the man's name or the company who hired him - that company is now under investigation.

Out of the several dozen firefighters who responded no one was hurt, but certainly not the outcome these first responders were hoping for.

As this investigation continues firefighters are boarding up the site to make sure there aren't any other incidents.