Authorities have identified the two construction workers who died Tuesday in an accident at a multi-home development on South Montgomery Street in Starkville.
Zachary Wayne Osbourn, 36, and William Kezzire, 19, both of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were killed when a trench collapsed on them while they were laying pipe at the Valentine townhouses construction site at about 10 a.m. Starkville Fire Department Chief Charles Yarbrough said the two were about 10 to 12 feet deep in the ground when the collapse occurred.
“In the 25 years I’ve been doing this, that’s the second (trench collapse) I’ve ever seen,” Yarbrough said. “When they happen, they’re devastating.”
Yarbrough said Osbourn had already died by the time first responders arrived to the site. An Air Care helicopter airlifted Kezzire to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, but he died en route.
Both victims worked for Tuscaloosa-based construction company Southern Civil Contracting. Representatives from the company did not respond to messages from The Dispatch by press time.
Yarbrough said it took responders two and a half hours to free the victims from the debris.
Firefighters from Columbus Fire and Rescue assisted Starkville firefighters by providing equipment to help free the victims, Yarbrough said. Law enforcement officers from Starkville Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G, and Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, as well as paramedics from OCH Regional Medical Center and other first responders were also on scene during the rescue.
Authorities closed the entire block of South Montgomery Street from Lynn Lane to Academy Road and redirected traffic at the intersections during the rescue. Emergency vehicles were parked up and down the street and in the construction site.
Piles of debris that had been forklifted out of the trench could be seen from the street, where reporters were asked to stay, and the crowd of first responders around the trench grew as they completed the rescue.
Representatives from Occupational Safety and Health Administration are still investigating the incident. Authorities do not know yet if charges will be filed in the case.