A search crew recovered the body Wednesday of a second man buried under wet dirt and sand in Upper Brookville, the day after a wall supporting a 30-foot pit collapsed on them, police said. Nassau County police have not released the identities of either victim, saying only that one victim was 57 years old, the other 45.
Investigators will now work to determine why the wall collapsed Tuesday afternoon as the victims installed a septic tank deep below the surface.
Authorities said a team from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on scene Wednesday to do their own assessment, and Thursday a spokesman for the Long Island Area Office of OSHA identified the construction company under scrutiny as RC Structures of Roslyn.
A receptionist who answered the phone at RC Structures Thursday said the company had no comment at this time.
The company website highlights myriad major construction projects, among them a significant number of multimillion-dollar skyscrapers and buildings, with concrete superstructures in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The two victims were part of a crew installing a septic system at a residence on Wolver Hollow Road, near Pine Valley Road, when the wall collapsed around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, police said. The work site contained several “large, round concrete cylinders weighing approximately 2,000 pounds,” Nassau police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said Tuesday night.
Rescue teams from the Nassau police department's Emergency Service Unit along with Old Brookville police made a desperate attempt Tuesday "using shovels and their bare hands" to pull the workers from the pile, LeBrun said, adding: "They put their lives at risk. They went down into this hole."
Emergency crews eventually pulled the 45-year-old man from the pit, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, LeBrun said. Efforts to pull out the second victim had continued Tuesday night and Wednesday before search teams finally recovered his body, officials said.
Michael Uttaro, Nassau County assistant chief fire marshal, said personnel from five fire departments worked with officers with Nassau police’s Emergency Service Unit to “safely remove the deceased from the construction site.”
Uttaro confirmed federal personnel with OSHA were at the site of the collapse Wednesday conducting an investigation.
The OSHA spokesman, Ted Fitzgerald, said Thursday the inspection into the employer, RC Structures Inc., is "to determine whether or not there have been any violations of OSHA safety and health standards" and said OSHA has up to six months to complete an inspection.
No preliminary findings have been released.
The recovery operation included securing unstable piles of sand and soil, which were then removed with buckets before the man's body was pulled from the hole Wednesday, Uttaro and other officials said.
Long Island has seen other instances of workers dying while doing similar work.
In May 2017, Edward Sinnott, 59, of Huntington, was killed after the rim of a freshly dug ditch collapsed, burying him beneath a large mound of dirt while he worked at a home in the town.
In November of that year, Kurt Peiscopgrau, 60, of Northport, was killed installing a cesspool at a Shoreham house after he became trapped underground in a pile of rubble.
With John Valenti