Florida Man Crushed in Trench Collapse

Richard Allen King won't get the chance to celebrate his 22nd birthday next week. Instead, his family will bury him as OSHA begins an investigation into his death.

Richard Allen King won''t get the chance to celebrate his 22nd birthday next week. Instead, his family will bury him.

King was killed yesterday when a trench at a Florida construction site collapsed around him, trapping him in wet soil and heavy clay up to his chest. One investigator on the scene said the weight of the dirt falling in on King was "like getting hit by a small car."

Sgt. Randy Justice of the Jacksonville Sheriff''s Office said construction crews at a Jacksonville, Fla., office building were digging a trench with a backhoe when the sides fell in, trapping King. King and other workers, who managed to escape injury, were laying an electrical conduit in the trench, which was approximately six feet deep and five feet wide. King worked as an electrician''s helper for R.E. Bay Electric Co.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is investigating the accident along with the sheriff''s department, has inspected R.E. Bay seven times since 1983, when an employee was electrocuted. James Borders, OSHA''s Jacksonville area director, said there were no citations in that case and that violations found in subsequent inspections were "not significant."

Borders said OSHA is targeting trenching safety, noting, "It''s extremely dangerous, especially here where we have extremely soft soils. It''s definitely a killer on job sites."

The OSHA investigation is expected to take at least a month.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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