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Hastings man dies after Wis. trench collapse

A 22-year-old Hastings man died last weekend after a trench collapse in Pierce County.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said 22-year-old Joseph T. Sanderson was airlifted Saturday, June 30, 2018, after the accident at N7155 690th St. in the town of Martell. Deputies said in a news release that Sanderson succumbed to his injuries later that day at Regions Hospital.

Deputies were called to the scene at 7:30 p.m. for a report of a man pinned in a collapsed trench, where he and others were attempting to bury a water line.

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According to the news release, Sanderson’s father and a family friend “immediately began to dig” to free him from the collapse. Deputies arrived and helped digging by hand in hopes of giving CPR.

Ellsworth fire and EMS crews arrived and eventually freed Sanderson, who was unconscious. Life-saving measures were deployed and he was flown from the area by LifeLink to Regions.

Deputies said the trench collapse incident remains under investigation.

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Jason Matthys, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office, said the water line was part of a home project at his parents’ residence. The incident did not involve contractors or construction crews.

Ellsworth police also assisted at the scene.

The U.S. labor department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration lists trenching and excavating as among “the most hazardous construction operations” and urges people not to enter unprotected trenches.

According to OSHA data, trenching-related deaths more than doubled nationally from 2015 to 2016, the year for which the most recent data was available.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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