(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.
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