Henry William Gray, 56, of Clarksville, IA, was working at Snelling Construction. Gray and several other construction workers were in the process of renovating buildings and excavating a long foundation wall.
Yet what should have been a routine construction project ended in tragedy when a heavy part of the wall accidentally tipped over and trapped Gray underneath.
According to local news station KWWL, Gray died at the scene before members of the Denver, IA, Fire Department and the owner of Snelling Construction were able to lift the wall and free him.
Business owners throughout the community said to police that they didn’t see anything at the time of the incident aside from police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks.
Along with law enforcement, The Courier reports that Iowa Occupational Safety and Health officials were on scene investigating the accident.
According to the Ohio Safety and Health Administration, around 4,585 workplace fatalities took place nationwide in 2013, and about 20% — or one out of every five — of those fatalities were due to construction-related incidents.
Police officers questioned many area residents immediately after the accident.
“Yes, it’s very unfortunate,” Jenny Lehman, who was eating at a restaurant directly across the street from the accident, said. “There was a fatality similar to that in my husband’s family. So we are very sympathetic with the family of the worker.”
Although she was right across from the accident, she was only able to get a quick glance in.
“Obviously there was some excavation going on,” Lehman said. “And a sheet had been placed up, probably for purposes of privacy on the equipment. And we couldn’t really see anything other than the ambulances and responders.”
The scene of the accident is clear and police are still continuing the investigation.
“Construction is a hazardous industry,” Jens Nissen, Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administrator, said. “Fatalities do occur, but it is up to the employers to evaluate the workplace and they have to address hazards in the workplace.”