Medical investigators have identified the victim of a recent West Seattle sewer trench collapse to be 36-year-old construction worker Harold Felton.
Felton died outside of a home on 36th Avenue SW and Southwest Hanford Street during a construction repair project when the 10-foot sewer trench collapsed on Jan. 26. Felton was buried under six feet of dirt when the walls of the trench gave way, according to KING 5 News.
Seattle firefighters were immediately called to the scene and there were reportedly signs that Felton was still alive when they arrived. Crews attempted to rescue the man at first but after about 20 minutes, it turned from a rescue operation to a body recovery effort; it was clear that after having been buried for 20 minutes, there would be no way for Felton to survive.
According to the Seattle Times, it took several hours for crews to recover the body. The trench collapsed at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning and it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that Felton’s body was found.
Felton was employed at Alki Construction and the collapse seems to have been an accident during a routine repair job. Felton leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old daughter.
As the Seattle Times noted, this is the first fatal sewer trench accident since 2008. Ever since trenchless sewers and repair methods began rising in popularity — which began around 15 years ago — safer installation and repair methods have been developed.