Two Landfill Employees Die in Pipe Accident in Suffolk

I was horrified to read about the deaths of two landfill employees who ended up trapped in an underground pipe in Suffolk.

The men were trapped in a vertical concrete pipe on Tuesday, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

They were identified by police as Eric O’Brien Williams, 35, of Portsmouth, and 60-year-old Stephen Louis Wilk of Moyock, N.C. The men were employees at John C. Holland Enterprises, Inc., off of Nansemond Parkway, according to media reports.

WAVY report on the landfill tragedy

The City of Suffolk said fire and rescue were called to the landfill at about 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s not clear who raised the alarm or how long the men were trapped in the pipe before help arrived. Suffolk Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Ted Adams said the pipe was three feet wide and 20 feet deep.

The men were in a culvert. They had a ladder. First responders are trying to piece together the last movements of the men before this tragic accident.

Our thoughts are with the families of the victims at this tragic time. Family members told local TV news stations they have little idea about what went wrong.

Fire Crews from Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach provided assistance to the crews from Suffolk. They faced uneven and damp terrain at the 70-acre landfill site. The two men were reported to be unresponsive by the time rescuers arrived at the scene.

Suffolk Police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate the incident.

Every year we see a handful of fatal industrial accidents in Hampton Roads. We noted how garbage and recycling workers are among the top 10 most dangerous professions in the United States.

When workers die on the job, there are often many unanswered questions. I help many people who are injured on dangerous premises and the families of loved ones who have lost their lives.

There are a lot of inherent dangers on landfill sites but the owners and operators have a duty to operate the sites as safely as they can and to not leave hidden dangers.

If you have lost a loved one in an industrial accident, please call me at (757) 455-0077 or see our page on injuries at a business.


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