Grosse Ile Employee Buried Alive in Cave-In Hospitalized in Critical Condition

Grosse Ile Township police and fire held a press conference Thursday afternoon about a Department of Public Works employee who became buried while attempting to fix a water main break on the island.

OUTSIDE DETROIT, MI -- A Grosse Ile Township employee is in critical condition after spending nearly 14 minutes buried underground while attempting to fix a water main break on the island Thursday morning.

The 56-year-old Department of Public Works employee and lifelong Grosse Ile resident became buried after the walls of a 12-foot deep hole dug to fix the water main collapsed on top of him.

The man was not breathing and did not have a pulse when he was pulled from the hole near Meridian Road, according to Grosse Ile Fire Chief Duncan Murdock. He was revived by Grosse Ile and Trenton emergency personnel at the scene and airlifted by helicopter to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Grosse Ile Township Police Chief Joseph Porcerelli and Murdock held a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the man's condition.

Two DPW employees who are also trained volunteer firefighters were at the site at the time of the collapse. The two men retrieved the man from the hole by digging through mud, water and clay with their bare hands.

While there were at least four other township employees at the site to fix the water main break, there was only one man in the hole at the time of the collapse.

A machine used to dig the hole could not be used to rescue the man because of the danger that it might injure the buried man, according to Murdock.

Porcerelli said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Downriver Accident Reconstruction Team (DART) have been notified and an investigation into the collapse has begun.

Some members of the man's family have been notified of the incident.

No one else was injured in the collapse.

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Carrie A January 24, 2013 at 07:51 PM
tom t January 25, 2013 at 01:02 AM
prayers for you my fellow DPS brother,,i too work for Dpws melvindale water n sewer,23 yrs......
Richard January 25, 2013 at 04:56 AM
Were you born mean spirited Rose Young-Stewart, or did you acquire it over the years?
Richard January 25, 2013 at 05:03 AM
What a horrible thing to have happen, how he must have suffered until he lost consciousness. I worked on a city water & sewer line one summer, we were never allowed to go down in the ground until a steel retaining wall was in place to prevent just such a cave in from happening. OSHA will be all over this and I see a lawsuit against the city coming very soon.
LINDA J HARMON January 25, 2013 at 01:03 PM
We take all these forgranted. Prayers to you all.
Ron January 25, 2013 at 05:05 PM
My thoughts and prayers to this worker and his family. This accident is so sad and yet avoidable. Sounds like protocol and procedures were not followed in this case. The potential for collapse is greatly increased especially with gushing water. Cutting corners apparently lead to the severe injury of this worker. The lesson here is for companies, municipalities and supervisors to follow the law regarding safe entry. Employees and workers have the right to refuse putting themselves into such dangerous situations when protocols and safety standards are not followed. I sincerely hope this worker makes a full recovery from this tragic event.
Kimberly Ariganello January 25, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Prayers for him and his family
Jeff Jones January 25, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Prayers for this worker, his family and the rest of the GI DPS guys. These guys know their stuff, but this is dangerous work! Jeff Jones Trenton
Dawn Barnsdale January 25, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Prayers going out- I know him and his son- very tragic.
c-ya@theballgame January 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM
@Rose Young Stewart, go troll on one of the other umpteen sites you troll on and stay off of this one. By clicking on your user name, it appears you comment on Patch sites all over the USA. Glad you aren't from GI or Trenton, you have no manners and have no idea what your crapping at the mouth about. Tom T simply sent prayers to the man who is fighting for his life and I am doing the same. Prayers to him and his family. This is just tragic.
Nate Stemen (Editor) January 26, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. I will do my best to make sure the family sees this community support in their time of need. -- NS
c-ya@theballgame January 26, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Nate, please leave out the negative posts when you forward the kind words, like Patch "wonderer" Rose Young Stewart and my comment to her and also Jessica who would like to tell people how to shop and post on an article such as this. So rude. I will post a postive one without using Rose's comment. C-ya !
c-ya@theballgame January 26, 2013 at 03:40 AM
May God be with him and his family during this tragic ordeal. Prayers are being sent you way.
Nate Stemen (Editor) January 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Some users' comments were deleted for violating the Patch Terms of Use. http://trenton-grosseile.patch.com/terms -- NS
cscharlt January 26, 2013 at 04:45 PM
thanks for this nate
cscharlt January 26, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Saddening story, hopefully this was a only a freak accident that couldn't have been prevented. I wish a speedy and full recovery for this man working so hard in such a cold spell in MI to improve our community. Also wanted to give my respects to the two amazing individuals that were the volunteer firefighters that dug him out with their bare hands.
michelle January 28, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Any updates? I really hope that they can save this man and learn from their mistakes. What a tough job, especially in this weather and to have this happen on top of it all. Prayers to the whole family. I hope he makes a full recovery.
Jeff knapp January 28, 2013 at 05:28 PM
All of us from Lincoln Park DPS WATER AND SEWER. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


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