Contractor killed in tragic double utility trench collapse in Michigan

Updated Nov 2, 2014

Police near Detroit were nearly able to save a contractor from a collapsed trench before the trench collapsed again, killing him.

Leland Rumph, 59, was the owner of Rumph Construction Inc. He and a crew were using a backhoe to dig a 20-foot-deep trench down to a sewer line in an empty lot in Gross Pointe Woods, according to a report from The Detroit News. Rumph was inside the trench, which was about 15 feet deep, when it collapsed.

Officers arrived roughly one minute after they received the call from the site and found Rumph completely buried, The News reports. They were able to burrow down to him and even uncover his arms and head. The officers were administering oxygen to Rumph and trying to keep him calm when the trench collapsed again.

In the second collapse, an officer was hurt as well but is in good condition at a Detroit hospital.

Gross Pointe Woods Public safety director and city administrator Al Fincham told the paper that the side walls of the trench “sheared off and collapsed.” In regard to whether the trench was done properly, Fincham said an investigation will be done to determine it but noted, “There are things I would have liked to see in place that weren’t there.”