SHORELINE, Wash. - A construction company is now under investigation from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for the death of two men who were killed during a ground collapse.
Officials with L&I said investigators opened an inspection on Peacefield Construction Company, which employed the two men. Officials also said the company was previously cited for violations at other job sites.
In 2014, Peacefield Construction was cited for lack of an accident prevention plan and failure to protect employees from a collapse in an excavation. In 2019, the company saw another violation for lack of access to enter and exit a trench and inadequate protection for a cave-in.
Shoreline Fire Department did not release the names of the two men killed on July 4, but said one was in his 30s and one was in his 60s. Officials said they were working on a fractured sewer trench line outside a home near the 650 block of NW 163rd Street when the ground suddenly caved underneath them.
Shoreline Fire Chief Matt Cowan said coworkers of the two men were outside the trench when the collapse happened. They immediately called 911 and tried digging the men out until first responders arrived.
"Within about 12 minutes with some heroic efforts by some of the bystanders and workers and some of our personnel, they were able to expose the tops of the two individuals," said Cowan.
The bodies of the two men remain partially buried on the scene. Cowan said a soil engineer is working with the fire department, city and county leaders on a plan to determine how stable the ground is, and how crews can safely recover the men.
"I’ve never had a more complicated type of rescue site like this," said Cowan. "I’ve been in the service for about 30 years. I’ve been on trench rescues and so forth. I have never had such a complicated site as this to work with, as far as access and the complexity of the whole itself."
The Shoreline Fire Department estimated the collapse was approximately 20 feet in width and 25 feet deep. Cowan said the men were buried under more than 20 feet of dirt.
"It’s a very steep slope and they were working down at the bottom of this. What we believe is that some of the dirt sluffed in from the top and ended up pinning them. They were covered entirely plus a few feet above their heads," said Cowan.
L&I’s inspection of the case will reveal if there were any violations at the job site that could have prevented the deadly incident. That investigation could take several weeks to several months because deaths occurred, L&I officials said.
The two men were recovered from the trench in the morning of July 6. The King County Medical Examiner's Office has identified the victims as 66-year-old David Ameh and 32-year-old Demetrius Sellers.
FOX 13 contacted Peacefield Construction Company for comment on the deadly collapse and is currently waiting for a response.