Man buried alive at Milpitas construction site

January 30, 2012 6:18:43 PM PST
A construction worker was killed at a jobsite after it had been ordered to shut down for safety violations. The tragedy happened at a home being built in Milpitas.

At the Calaveras Ridge Estates at 10:30 a.m. Saturday a 37-year-old carpenter was killed when a 12-foot wall of unstable soil caved in on him.

"We got a call from the police dispatch. I think, half an hour later the contractor made the call to 911," said Keyvan Irannejad, the chief building inspector for the city of Milpitas.

Irannejad is the only one authorized by the city to talk with reporters about what happened. He says the contractor tried to pull the carpenter from the ditch at 10:30 a.m. when the cave-in happened, but was unable to rescue the man. When police and firefighters showed up, it was too late and rescuers determined it was also too dangerous with the hillside and the ditch still unstable.

"We have another contractor onsite. They excavated the site of the area in which the body is buried and within 45 minutes, one of the workers, in the sense of being safe [will] reach out and pull the body out," said Irannejad.

The contractor for U.S. Sino Investments has left the country. The project manager told ABC7 he is in China. We also learned that the city of Milpitas issued a stop work order on this project last Wednesday, three days before the accident because a building inspector determined that the ditch was a safety hazard. There was not adequate shoring to prevent a cave-in.

"Apparently, the contractor over the weekend ignored that notice and they've been working there," said Irannejad.

ABC7 asked Irannejad if he talked with the company about ignoring the stop work order and what was the city's position on it.

"Well, obviously when a stop work order is issued, it is illegal to continue with the work and they can be subject to the fine and the penalties. Also, Cal/OSHA is onsite and they did receive a copy of our stop work notice," replied Irannejad.

Cal/OSHA arrived on the site in the late afternoon on Monday.

Another contractor was called in over the weekend to start removing the dirt on top of the body. The 37-year-old carpenter is still unidentified.