Workplace tragedy: 2 crushed to death by granite slabs at Sterling Heights warehouse

It took a massive effort by emergency responders to recover the bodies of two workers who were killed inside a warehouse. 

"Very tragic day for the employees here they are broken up a tight-knit group. Our thoughts and prayers are with them," said Sterling Heights Fire Department Chief Chris Martin.

A workplace tragedy took the lives of two men around 2:45 p.m. Monday at Stone Warehouse on 19 Mile in Sterling Heights.

"There was a lot of different granite slabs that had shifted and pinned them in.  The one person we knew was dead right away, then we realized there was two that were actually trapped in there," Martin said.

Emergency responders said only after doing a headcount of employees did they realize a second person had been killed as well.  Online the company posted pictures of the inside showing row after row of stone slabs, each weighing 1,000 pounds. 

RELATED: Two killed after being crushed under 11 slabs of granite in Sterling Heights

"Customers come in and look for granite. If you buy a piece of granite, they have to move it to get ready to take care of it. They were using a crane to move it and some other granite shifted and pinned the workers underneath it," Martin said. 

The chief says both men died instantly, crushed under the weight of multiple slabs. The operation became a recovery mission. 

"Somebody's got to get these men out  to their families respectfully. Dangerous situation, so we want to make sure none of our employees get hurt," Martin said.

Whatever happened inside caused hundreds of slabs to shift, and moving them out of the way proved to be a challenge. The Macomb County Technical Rescue Team was called in. They also had help from competitors in the stone business. 

"The guys that came to help us said they would rather use their own equipment. ... We have two different companies that are neighbors with their crew that are in there moving granite for us. Those guys do this every day. We make sure we talk to them about how we're going to get this done safely and we're very grateful for their help and will recognize them when we are done with this," Martin said. 

It was a tragedy all the way around. The chief says their be a debriefing for emergency responders as well as for those who helped in the rescue efforts.