Local News

Crews Recover Body of Worker Buried in Cave-in

Posted May 30, 2007
Updated May 31, 2007

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— Firefighters and emergency medical personnel were able to retrieve the body of a construction worker early Thursday morning, 12 hours after he was buried in a trench cave-in beside the Holly Springs Post Office.

The accident occurred at around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in a sewer-line trench at least 10 feet deep, officials said. Crews said a contractor was installing a sewer line as part of infrastructure for a new development. Two other workers were in the trench when a portion of the wall collapsed, but they escaped.

Rudolpho Manasterio, 45, of Angier, was covered by the collapsing dirt, according to a town spokesman. Manasterio worked for Lillington-based Milton Grading & Utilities.

Monasterio’s body was removed from the trench shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday, about an hour after rescue personnel found him.

A Holly Springs police sergeant had just arrived at the post office on an unrelated matter when an equipment operator yelled for help as the cave-in occurred. Sgt. Dru Humphries rushed over, grabbed a shovel and began digging with one of the victim’s co-workers.

Other emergency personnel arrived in response to Humphries’ radio call and joined the attempt to find Manasterio. With Manasterio completely covered, however, the operation turned from rescue to recovery. Equipment enabling rescue personnel to safely enter the trench was assembled from several departments.

“What makes it so time-consuming is that no one agency has a large enough staff to handle an event like this,” Holly Springs Fire Chief Cecil Parker said, adding it would be impractical for one agency to try to carry out such emergency operations alone.

Nearly 75 emergency personnel were on the scene Wednesday evening. In addition to the Holly Springs Fire-Rescue and Police departments, there were personnel and equipment from Apex, Cary, Raleigh, Wake County, Morrisville, Durham and Chapel Hill.

Many are part of a regional Urban Search and Rescue team.

Parker said it was the first such ditch cave-in to which he has responded during his 15 years with the Town of Holly Springs. Two trench accidents, one resulting in a fatality, have occurred in town in the past several years, Parker said. Neither involved a collapsing wall.

Occupational Safety & Health investigators from the state Department of Labor are investigating the cause.

Labor Department spokeswoman Heather Crews said Milton Grading has no violations on record, nor has the agency investigated any complaints by employees.