Construction firm issues statement after deadly Brier Creek trench collapse

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- With rescue and recovery efforts complete in a deadly trench collapse at a construction site in Brier Creek, the focus turns to investigation of the accident that cost one worker his life.

D R Mozeley, the company in charge of the construction project said the accident involved a subcontractor and issued a statement Tuesday morning.

"On January 15, an incident occurred involving a subcontractor working on a construction site for a D R Mozeley project," the Charlotte-based company said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the workers and their families affected by this incident. The safety of all employees and subcontractors on our construction sites is our highest priority and we are deeply committed to following all industry safety standards. We will be working with the appropriate agencies to identify the cause of this incident. We will provide more information as it becomes available."

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TRENCH COLLAPSE: Ground video from the scene



On Wednesday, a trench collapsed around 11 a.m. at 4209 Corners Parkway near TW Alexander and Glenwood Avenue, leaving one worker covered in dirt. His body was recovered hours later. Two other workers were hospitalized and another scrambled to safety under his own power.

For the Brier Creek project, D R Mozeley contracted with J Squared Plumbing out of Georgia to handle certain aspects of the plumbing work, D R Mozeley told ABC11 on Thursday.

J Squared Plumbing has handled previous projects for D R Mozeley, the company said.

On Wednesday,. "representatives of J Squared Plumbing were scheduled to work on a water meter assembly in a three foot well, not performing work in a deeper trench. D R Mozeley continues to work with state and local agencies regarding this incident, and our thoughts and prayers remain with the workers and their families affected by this incident," the company said in a statement to the ABC11 I-Team.

Occupational Safety and Health officials with the North Carolina Department of Labor are investigating to determine the circumstances and factors in the accident.

Some of the things investigators look for as standard practice include, but are not limited to:
  • Whether workers were provided a protective system. Protective systems include sloping the sides of the trench or providing a shield (trench box) between the trench sides and the work area.
  • Whether the slope was appropriate for the type of soil.
  • Whether soil was placed at least 2 feet from the trench's edge.
  • Whether factors such as vibrations from machinery and traffic that can affect soil stability were considered.
  • Whether workers had safe exits from trenches 4 feet deep or deeper.


D R Mozeley has been in business since 1958 and is licensed to operate in eight Southeastern states.

The company has had three incidents referred to OSH since 2015, resulting in two citations.

In November, it faced an excavation work complaint in Union County, but the case was closed and the company was not fined. In October 2018, the company was fined $2,600 for a violation stemming from problems with aerial lifts and fall protection.

OSH investigations can take from a few weeks to six months depending on the complexity of the incident.

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A rescue effort is underway Wednesday after reports of a trench collapse near the Brier Creek area.



ABC11's Jonah Kaplan contributed to this report.
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