The stepson of a 59-year-old worker who died this week while installing a cesspool at a Huntington home said Thursday it was an unforeseen accident.
“Nobody is at fault,” said John Jahoda, 29, standing outside his stepfather’s house, also in Huntington. “It’s a tragedy.”
Edward Sinnott and other workers were in the front yard of the house on Beech Place installing the cesspool when, according to Suffolk police, the rim of a freshly dug hole collapsed, Sinnott fell and was buried under a large mound of dirt.
Jahoda, who lives in Laurel, Maryland, had viewed a video of the collapse posted on social media that showed the moment a hole in ground where Sinnott was standing opened up.
“It looked like he was going down a water slide, straight down, feet first,” Jahoda said. “It was like a sink hole wherever he was standing. He just went down and everything came on top.”
Workers immediately tried to dig Sinnott out, first by hand, but quickly realized Sinnott had fallen deep into the ground and was out of their reach, Jahoda said.
“The earth just consumed him, just sucked him up,” he said.
An inspector with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating to determine whether the company hired to install the cesspool met safety regulations.
“As part of its inspection, OSHA is gathering information to determine which OSHA standards may apply in this situation and, ultimately, whether or not the employer complied with those standards,” said a spokesman for the agency, which has oversight of workplace safety issues.
A spokesman for the Suffolk County police said Thursday Sinnott worked for Don Antorino Sewer & Drain.
The owner of the Huntington home on Thursday said he was up the street when he heard yelling. The homeowner, who asked not to be named, said he walked back to his house and saw a hole in his yard and two workers frantically digging in an effort to get to Sinnott.
The homeowner, who called 911, also said the hole collapse was a “freak” accident.
“My condolences to Mr. Ed and his family. It’s a sad situation,” said the homeowner. “The poor man went to work and never came home.”
As his family members make arrangements to bury Sinnott, they are still grappling with his sudden death.
“There is no word — just shock,” said Jahoda.
He remembered his stepfather as “an amazing human being.
“When he came into the room he made you feel like you are family and loved, no matter who you are,” Jahoda said.
Jahoda said Sinnott also is survived by a wife, a second son, three brothers, a sister, and a grandson.