Court documents indicate that the company was warned about its unsecured trenches in February. When the site was inspected in April, four workers were found in an unfortified trench that was seven feet deep. Project managers were told to get the men out of the trench. However, the inspector checked back within an hour, only to find the workers still in the trench of which the depth had increased to 13 feet. The inspector reported that the workers were only instructed to leave the trench about an hour later, though the instructions were given in English rather than Spanish spoken by the workers.

The workers did not respond to the instruction, and after 15 minutes, the supervisor used Spanish to call them from the trench. Within moments, the side of the trench collapsed, trapping one worker. The massive force and weight of the soil crushed the worker to death. The two project managers are now facing charges of negligent endangerment, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

If an Illinois family has lost a loved one in a trench collapse — or any other workplace accident — the unexpected expenses related to end-of-life arrangements and the sudden lack of income may be crippling. Fortunately, some level of financial relief is available through the workers’ compensation insurance system. Death benefits are available for covered family members to settle funeral and burial bills, along with a financial package as compensation for a percentage of lost wages. In some circumstances, additional monetary relief may be sought independent of a workers’ compensation claim.

Source: New York Daily News, “Construction managers at Meatpacking District site where young worker was killed surrender to prosecutors“, Anthony Izaguirre, Dareh Gregorian, Aug. 5, 2015