SHORELINE — The bodies of two workers remained trapped Monday evening after a trench collapsed in Shoreline earlier in the day, killing two men — one in his 30s and another in his 60s.
Michelle Pidduck, with the Shoreline Fire Department, said the incident has now become a recovery effort, which ended Monday evening, around 9 p.m. The effort was to resume Tuesday morning.
There is no timeline for the recovery of the bodies, although officials with the Shoreline Fire Department said they might work with a rescue crew from the Seattle Fire Department or an excavation specialist if needed.
“It was on a very steep slope. It’s just an unstable surface for us to continue,” Pidduck said.
Family members of the workers were at the scene and later escorted by police to another site. Local chaplains had been sitting with the men’s families late Monday as a medical service officer kept them updated with each development in the recovery process.
Washington State Labor and Industries officials were also dispatched to the scene. Pidduck said the men were private employees but she did not know who had hired them.
Oliver Cobb, who lives near the home in the 600 block of Northwest 163rd Street in the Highland Terrace neighborhood where the incident took place, said neighbors had been working to repair a sewer and had dug a 20-foot hole in their backyard.
“They sent down stretchers and no one came back with anything,” Cobb said.
Recent permitting records with the city of Shoreline show that a nearby resident was replacing part of a collapsed side sewer on private property.
At around 8:30 p.m., Pidduck said, three vacuum trucks with long hose leads, including one from the North City Water District, were brought to the scene in an attempt to suck up loose soil and alleviate pressure around where the men’s bodies are buried so they can be safely extricated. No one can dig around the area because the ground is still very unstable. Pidduck said cave-in incidents are “sudden and with a lot of force.” Pidduck later said the attempts to use the vacuum trucks failed.
“The dirt was too hard and too packed,” she said.
Pidduck said the men’s bodies are currently buried beneath “at least 3 feet of earth.” But medics initially on the scene were able to connect with part of them that was exposed enough to use an automated external defibrillator. No heart activity was detected.
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