Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local Headlines

Trench Collapse Kills 18-Year-Old Doing Work For Family Business

OSHA standards suggest protective systems be used for most worksites with trenches 5 feet or deeper. Deaths related to trench collapse are considered 100 percent preventable.

Authorities say a trench collapse at Fitz Henry and Reduction roads in Westmoreland County killed a man working at the site on Wednesday.

The county coroner's office said 18-year-old Adam Skokut Jr., who graduated from Yough Senior High School last spring, was installing a sewer pipe at the South Huntingdon Township property at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when the trench began to fill with water.

He tried to escape but fell back into the nine-foot-deep trench, and the side walls collapsed, trapping him beneath tons of dirt.

Officials said emergency responders worked for more than three hours to unbury him, eventually freeing Skokut to the waist. They tried to revive him, but the remaining trench wall was so unstable they had to further secure it.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the scene just before noon. Skokut's body was retrieved at about 1:25 p.m. The coroner's office said Skokut died of compression suffocation, and the death was ruled accidental.

Spokeswoman Leni Fortson in Philadelphia told the Trib that OSHA “has begun an investigation into the fatality” and that a public report should be available within 60 days.

His father, Adam Skokut Sr. is listed as the contact for A-Affordable Sanitation Inc., which does sewer, septic and drain work, according to its website. The property on Fitz Henry Road also belonged to the family.

Photo by Hitchter/Flickr. The Associated Press contributed to this report.