KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — First responders were at the scene of a fatal trench collapse in South Knox County Monday afternoon, according to Rural Metro Fire. One man died at the scene.
Emergency personnel responded to a report of a man trapped in a trench at an excavating site off Berry Road around 12:15 p.m. Rural Metro Fire spokesperson Jeff Bagwell said that crews arrived to find the man deceased and buried in a partial collapse.
Bagwell said workers were laying utility lines in a trench about 10 feet deep. He said it continued to collapse as workers at the site attempted to excavate around the site to try and get him out.
“Our guys arrived on the scene [and] found the gentleman was in fact buried in a partial collapse up to the waist and deceased at that time,” he said. “He was obviously deceased before we got here.”
The victim’s body was excavated from the trench at 6:29 p.m.
The identity of the victim has not been released. Rural Metro Fire said Monday that they expected to be at the site for five to six hours. The public was asked to avoid the area.
“I think there was about four people working at the job from what I can count on my hand. One was [the victim’s] son,” Bagwell said. “It was traumatic anytime especially when it’s a family member and you were there.”
Rural Metro, Knoxville Fire Department, Knox County Rescue Squad and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office worked the scene Monday. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration or TOSHA was also at the scene. TOSHA investigations into a workplace fatality can take eight to 10 weeks to complete and typically involves surveying the scene, reviewing company procedures, and conducting interviews.
In April, two injured men were rescued from a trench collapse at the construction site of an apartment complex off Inskip Drive.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.