A construction worker was buried alive Tuesday after a trench collapsed and he was trapped under more than three feet of dirt for 18 minutes.
The man was part of a crew installing a water line in the Spring Valley community southeast of San Diego.
According to reports, a backhoe operator saw the walls of the five-foot-deep trench sliding and warned workers to get out.
The man who died tripped and fell as he scrambled to escape, said Ed Hayman, division chief of the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District.
By the time coworkers, paramedics and firefighters managed to dig him out, the man had stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
"I feel terrible. It could have been me, it could have been any one of us in there," said coworker David Jensen.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.