The trench was down the middle of the busy streets of Crawford Street and ended at the intersection of Santa Fe Street in Salina. The depth of the hole along Crawford was approximately ten feet. Deep enough that you could just make out the bobbing of the worker’s hard hats as you drove along the street.
The problem with this trench was there was no shoring. Many – including yours truly – knew the company was violating OSHA requirements, but nobody stepped forward and said the work should stop until shoring was in place.
Back to the trench.
The Crawford Street trench was bad, but the intersection at Santa Fe was worse. Various piping went numerous directions. The hole at this point was approximately thirty feet wide by fifteen feet deep.
On this particular day there were two workers working at the Santa Fe / Crawford intersection. A couple full sheets of plywood were haphazardly propped up against the southeast wall of the trench.
It was just this point where the plywood sheets were that the collapse occurred. The two workers were both trapped under the plywood and the dirt. The one was deeper under than the other.
Firefighters quickly responded to the scene, but the time it took to get one out was good and the time it took to get the other one out was bad. The one worker died that day.
The hole would’ve been very difficult to shore up with the multiple number of pipes, but regardless it should have been done.
Many people learned a valuable lesson that day.