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W.Va. man dies in trench collapse

December 18, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. ? A Falling Waters, W.Va., man died Monday after he was injured when a trench collapsed on him while he was helping to install a sewer line off Shepherd Grade Road, according to a spokeswoman for the man's employer.

Andrew "Jake" Robinson II, 39, died at Inova Fairfax (Va.) Hospital, said Patty Barrett, office manager for Barrett's Excavating & Hauling in Hedgesville, W.Va.

Robinson was part of a crew of workers laying a sewer line at the end of Fern Bank Drive near the Cress Creek subdivision, rescue officials said.

The accident occurred where a smaller subdivision, North Hill, is being developed, Barrett said.

A trench in the ground caved in on Robinson and his co-workers dug through the dirt to free him, said rescue officials, who were notified of the accident at 10:09 a.m.

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Robinson went into cardiac arrest before arriving at City Hospital and was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, rescue officials said.

Wife: 'I'm heartbroken'

Robinson's wife, Vicky, said Tuesday night her husband was fighting for his life, but his injuries were too much for him to sustain.

"I'm heartbroken," Vicky Robinson said.

Barrett said Robinson had worked for her company since February and was a good employee. Because Barrett's Excavating & Hauling is a small company, workers there are like family, Barrett said.

"It's very hard. Very hard," Barrett said, adding it was the first workplace fatality for the company.

Barrett said Robinson's death was especially hard to take since it happened so close to the holidays.

Autopsy being conducted

Barrett said she did not have more details about how the collapse occurred.

An autopsy is being conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Fairfax, Va., said Catherine Bailey, administrative assistant at that office.

Results of the autopsy, which will show the cause and manner of death, could be available today, Bailey said.

A spokeswoman with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said her agency had not been notified of Robinson's death.

A workplace death is supposed to be reported to OHSA by the company involved within eight hours, said Leni Uddyback-Fortson.

'He was a beautiful man'

Robinson grew up in Martinsburg and was a 1987 graduate of Martinsburg High School. He was a U.S. Army veteran and had three stepsons and a stepdaughter.

Robinson had been involved in construction through much of his working life, his wife said.

"He was a beautiful man. I just want my husband back," Vicky Robinson said.

Robinson's death was the second workplace death in the Cress Creek area this year.

On Sept. 24, a utility worker was electrocuted while installing a power line in the area.

The 35-year-old man, who was not identified, was installing a line between two poles when his hand came in contact with a line off Shepherd Grade Road, rescue officials said.

At the time, Uddyback-Fortson said OSHA would investigate what happened in the electrocution, how it occurred and whether there were any violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Uddyback-Fortson said Tuesday her agency was still investigating the electrocution.

OSHA is a federal agency that works to ensure employee safety.

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