An Ohio man was killed outside of a North Strabane Township home on Friday after he became trapped when a roughly 10-foot-deep trench in which he was helping to place a sewer line collapsed and buried him.

North Strabane fire Chief Mark Grimm said his department was called to the house on Brehm Road about 1:10 p.m. It was a little before 5 p.m. by the time the man’s remains were recovered.

“It took us nearly three hours from the time we started (digging) to rescue the male that was trapped in the hole,” Grimm said. “The problem with these collapses, obviously, is that you’re 6 to 10 feet down, dirt keeps falling, so it’s tedious and time-consuming ...”

Members of Canonsburg EMS pronounced Richard St. John, 49, of Bellaire, dead. Grimm said St. John’s body was in the care of the Washington County coroner’s office. The cause and manner of his death are pending autopsy, according to the coroner’s report.

St. John didn’t live at the house but was one of several people who were tying the property to a municipal sewer line that had recently been installed in the neighborhood.

He wasn’t doing the work for a contractor or other type of employer, but officials said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had arrived to investigate.

North Strabane police are investigating the death.

Assisting were Canonsburg Ambulance, firefighters from Canonsburg, North Strabane and Peters Township departments, North Strabane and Peters Departments of Public Works and the Washington County Department of Public Safety.


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