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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Day Laborer Killed When Trench Collapses

March 31, 2000

TARZANA — A man was killed Thursday after the massive trench in which he was working collapsed and buried him, authorities said.

Nearly 8 feet deep and 100 feet long, the trench behind a home in the 4500 block of El Caballero Drive caved in about 11:30 a.m., piling dirt over the man's head, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

The man's co-workers told authorities they cleared dirt from around the man's head and face after the accident. He was still buried up to his mid-chest, was not breathing and had no pulse when firefighters arrived, Humphrey said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man, a day laborer, was a 49-year-old Sun Valley resident, Humphrey said. His name was being withheld because his family had not been notified of his death, coroner's spokesman Scott Carrier said.

Humphrey said authorities have yet to identify the contractor.

The workers were building a retaining wall behind the swimming pool of the single-family house, fire Battalion Chief Mark Jones said.

Although construction crews usually brace deep ditches with metal or plywood barriers to keep them from collapsing, no such measures were present at the site, he said. "Safety precautions were not being utilized," Jones said. "It's a very precarious job site. This had the possibility of injuring a lot more people."

City building safety inspectors and investigators from Cal/OSHA will examine the site, he said.

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