Construction Worker Killed in Trench Identified

Raul Zapata of Hayward is the man who died last Friday while working on a construction site in Milpitas.

The victim who was killed when a 12-foot dirt ditch caved in on top of him while he worked on a new home in Milpitas has been identified as 39-year-old Raul Zapata of Hayward.

Zapata died last Friday. His body was not removed from the construction site until late Monday night.

Fellow workers tried to rescue the man,  but they say he was buried alive and they could not get to him.

Zapata's relatives in Hayward said he moved to the Bay Area about six weeks ago and was sending most of his earnings back to his wife and three daughters in Zacatecas, Mexico.

While the incident is tragic for Zapata's family, it is also the subject of some serious local and state investigations, in part because Milpitas inspectors said they ordered work at the construction site to stop three days before Zapata died.

"Stop work notice means you have to stop the work and don't do any construction. Apparently, they ignore that stop work notice," Milpitas building inspector Keyvan Irannejad said. 

The construction crew is building a gated community in the hills of Milpitas. Irannejad said they determined that recent rains and an absence of shoring in the foundation hole had made the site unsafe, but the contractor, Fremont-based U.S.-Sino Investment, did not comply with the stop-work order.
The contractor now faces fines from the city of Milpitas for violating the stop work order. It's possible Cal-OSHA will also fine the company.

Milpitas police say they are also investigating to see if any criminal charges are warranted.

The investigations are expected to take at least four months, according to NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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