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Man dies in Dickinson trench cave-in

Press Photo by Jennifer McBride Dickinson emergency workers try to free the body of a construction worker who was killed after a trench caved in at about 8:15 Tuesday morning in Dickinson.2 / 2

A 39-year-old Salt Lake City man died after a trench caved in Tuesday morning at a home construction site in Dickinson, police and a witness said.

Two other men were treated and released from St. Joseph's Hospital. One may have a broken bone and the extent of the other's injuries was unconfirmed, Dickinson Police Department Capt. Joe Cianni said.

"Initial information was difficult to get because of somewhat of a language barrier at the scene," he said.

Casimiro Medina, who came to the area about two weeks ago, was killed while working in a trench he and his co-workers were digging to put in water and sewer piping, Roberto Almodobar told The Press at the scene.

Almodobar said he was from Salt Lake City and was working alongside Medina at the site. They were in-laws who came to the area for work, he said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the accident and an inspector should be on-scene within 24 hours, said Eric Brooks, Bismarck Area OSHA Office assistant area director, at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The agency was in contact with one of two companies he believes is involved, but he would not release the company names. "Until we get a guy on-site, I hate to say," he said. It was reported to OSHA that the companies are based out of Utah and Idaho, he said.

DPD Senior Patrol Officer Corey Lee said he was among the first at the scene and said Medina's body was exposed in the ground to about "midway up his chest."

The DPD received the initial call about the accident, which occurred on the northwest side of the city in a subdivision development, at about 8:15 a.m., according to a DPD press release. When Lee arrived, he said there were about five employees who directed him to the Medina.

Emergency workers used shoring to brace the trench and slowly dug to extricate the body, Lee said. They freed Medina's body at about 10:45 a.m.

In trenching and excavation operations, cave-ins are among the primary issues OSHA sees, Brooks said, adding the agency has created a national program on trenching because of the hazards involved.

"So it's a concern coast to coast," he said. "Cave-in protection is probably the most common citation we've addressed within the construction industry."

Statistics on trenching accidents were not readily available Tuesday, Brooks said. However, there was also a cave-in-related fatality in Bismarck in October, and that investigation is nearing completion, he said.

There were no reports or complaints at the Dickinson site prior to this incident, Brooks said.

Work is on hold pending an investigation, according to the DPD press release.