By Seth Daniel
Two men working for Atlantic Drain Company of Roslindale died on Friday afternoon when a 20-foot trench in the South End’s Dartmouth Street collapsed on them while they were working inside.
The scene unfolded around 1 p.m. as workers were in the 2 x 20 foot trench replacing a sewer line and, apparently, a fire hydrant line collapsed and dumped hundreds of gallons into the trench and onto the street. Witnesses said the other workers jumped out just in the nick of time, and then tried frantically to help the two other men – to no avail.
The men were later identified as Robert Higgins, 47, and Kelvin Mattocks, 53. Neither men were from Boston.
Boston Fire and Rescue crews were on scene immediately with the help of the Boston Police, National Grid and Boston Water and Sewer (BWSC). Tremont Street, Montgomery Street and Dartmouth Street were closed off for most of the day – causing massive gridlock on streets like Columbus Avenue and Clarendon Street.
The removal of the two deceased men was a painstakingly slow and careful procedure using the Boston Fire Rescue Crews and a Vactor truck from BWSC. The effort continued most of the afternoon and well into the night.
Both bodies were recovered by the evening.
New questions, afterward, surfaced regarding the safety record of Atlantic Drain.
The Massachusetts Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) reported tat they first notified the authorities of unsafe conditions on Atlantic jobs in 2007. The federal Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has fined Atlantic several times since then. They were reported by Boston media sources to owe thousands in unpaid fines.