Man buried alive in Milpitas accident

(KTSF by Sean Au)

A 39 year old construction worker  from Hayward was buried alive Saturday morning when a ditch caved  in at a construction site in Milpitas.

The accident happened at around 10.30am. 39 year old Raul Zapata was working in a ditch in the excavated foundation of  a home located  at 814 Calaveras Ridge Drive .  When the soil next to him gave wa y, he was buried. . Other workers at the site tried to rescue him but were  unsuccessful.

Keyvan Irannejad, Chief Building Official  at the  Milpitas’ Building & Safety Department says, “When I got to the scene on Saturday, you could see the top of his head, his hair from the soil. I assume there was 5 feet of soil.”

Rescue workers arrived to find the area dangerous to carry out rescue and recovery. Engineers had to figure out a safe way to excavate around the victim to free the  body which was finally recovered two days later on Monday night.

Milpitas’ Building & Safety Department says the contractor has just received a stop work notice three days before the accident occurred. “Apparently, they disregarded the stop work notice and we found out that they were on the site with 7 or 8 crew working on the site on Saturday when the accident  happened  ,” says Irannejad.

All work  on the site  have since been halted. The contractor, U.S.-  Sino Investment ,  based in Fremont, did not returned our calls or e-mails.

The Milpitas Police Department and California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) have launched  separate investigations into the accident. If found to be negligent of workers’ safety, the contracter would be cited.

“Citations can be up to $25,000 per violation,” says Erika Monterroza, spokesperson of Cal/OSHA. “If it is found that there is a wilful citation, that means the employer knew that a hazard existed, and ignored it, then it can be up to $70,000.”

In addition, if anyone is found to be criminally liable, Monterroza says, the case would be referred to the county’s district attorney for prosecution.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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