Man severely injured after trench collapses at work site


A man suffered serious injuries Wednesday morning in an apparent industrial accident off Kaiminani Drive in North Kona.

The man, identified by the Hawaii Fire Department as 66 years old and by the Hawaii Police Department as 64 years old, apparently was working near a freshly dug trench near Amaama Street when one of the walls collapsed around 10 a.m., said Makalei Fire Station Capt. Lyle Loyola. He estimated the trench was 6 feet deep.

Kona Patrol Capt. Richard Sherlock said responding officers determined the man was standing near the edge of the trench when one of the walls apparently collapsed causing him to fall inside the trench.

Fellow workers at the scene helped extricate the man, Loyola said. They also helped the first two responding firefighters lift the man from the trench.

“They passed him and helped carry him out,” Loyola said about the co-workers.

The man was transported in serious condition to North Hawaii Community Hospital, said Loyola. He appeared to suffer severe facial trauma, including an injury to the eye socket.

An update on his condition was unavailable as of press time Wednesday. However, Sherlock said he was later flown to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

Loyola said the man was a worker for E.M. Rivera and Sons. Hawaii Electric Light Co. spokesman Roger Keller confirmed the incident and that the utility company had contracted E.M. Rivera to dig the trenches and install infrastructure for HELCO underground cables in the area.

He said no HELCO employees were at the scene at the time of the incident and that the injured person was an employee of the contractor. The cause of the accident is still being investigated, Keller said after being questioned if recent rains might have left the ground unstable.

Work continued in the area, however, the accident site was secured for further investigation, Keller said.

Hawaii County also has a contractor performing work in the the area where the industrial accident occurred, Department of Public Works spokeswoman Noelani Whittington confirmed Wednesday afternoon. However, the incident Wednesday morning was not related to the county road work, which is taking place near Ahiahi Street, she said.