A worker died this morning in a trench collapse after being buried under at least 8 feet of soil, authorities said.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was at the bottom of the 15-foot deep trench at 9:40 a.m. at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City when the earth collapsed.

"It was very very tragic," said Salt Lake Deputy Fire Chief Dan Andrus.

The workers, employed by a contracting company, were at 500 S. Foothill Drive doing an excavation project to install a new water line when the accident happened.

Andrus said the victim was at the bottom of the trench when a co-worker, who had just taken a 10-hour course on trench safety, said he should get out immediately because the walls had not been shored up.

Seconds after that, the trench caved in.

Andrus said the co-worker's description was, "It happened so quick. It happened so quick."

It took co-workers five minutes of digging by hand to reach the top of the victim's helmet. After rescue crews arrived it took another 15 minutes to shore up the walls to prevent a secondary collapse and dig out the man's head and shoulders, Andrus said. By the time his head was uncovered the man was already dead. The victim was found in a standing position.

Investigators with OSHA at the accident site investigating.


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