Family of man who died in trench explores legal options

James B. Rogers, 33, died June 15 while working on a construction site.

Family members of the Winchester man who died after a trench collapse at a Washington Twp. construction site have consulted an attorney to explore legal options.

James B. Rogers, 33, died June 15 after a 12-foot deep trench collapsed on him while working for KRW Plumbing of Jamestown. Emergency personnel worked for hours to extricate Rogers’ body at 463 Claxton Glen near Marshall Road.

“The family of James Rogers joined together in deep grief during the funeral services at Newcomer Funeral Home in Dayton, Thursday, June 23,” said a statement through attorney Craig Matthews.

“They would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the compassionate support they received from the firemen, EMTs, police, neighbors and others during the nearly seven hours they watched as James’ lifeless body was recovered from beneath the ground. They also wish to thank all the friends and community who have reached out with prayers and sympathy.”

An investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is ongoing. A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office report indicated that, initially, the owner of KRW Plumbing “admitted to the investigators that he did not tell the truth” about the hole’s depth.

That report said KRW Plumbing owner Rick Williams told first responders the hard-packed clay trench was seven feet, but then “admitted the trench was 12 feet deep” when OSHA investigators arrived.

According to OSHA, a trench five feet or deeper requires a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock.

The trench was one of the deepest the regional technical rescue team has encountered, Washington Twp. Fire Capt. Michael Guadagno said. The rescue team’s equipment is only made for trenches eight feet deep.

“I am still in the fact gathering stage and it is too early to determine whether or not a lawsuit will be filed, or, if one is filed, who all will be named defendants,” Matthews said. “Preliminary indications are that James would be alive if KRW Plumbing had conventional safety measures in place.”

About a month before his death, Rogers posted on Facebook that a 12-foot-deep sewer hole he was working in caved in about 10 minutes after he got out of it.

“Never again (ain’t) worth it,” Rogers wrote May 10.