UPDATE | Investigation into plumbing company after worker dies at construction site complete

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The investigation into Hardy Plumbing after a worker was killed at Riverwood Plantation is complete, and citations have been issued for five serious safety violations.

According to the Department of Labor, Hardy Plumbing and OSHA reached a settlement on Tuesday, in which Hardy Plumbing will pay $31,473.

OSHA came to their conclusion because of similar issues with site inspections. The Department of Labor states Hardy Plumbing has perfomed significant new training and has committed to continue their site inspections and training.

The initial penalty was supposed to be $48,167.

Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said 25-year-old Joshua Price was killed when a trench he was working inside simply gave way. Price suffocated to death.

According to Hardy Plumbing's website, they specialize in extreme utility construction where extreme depth and other utilities are involved.



Monday, Jan. 9, 2017

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now investigating Hardy Plumbing after a worker was killed at Riverwood Plantation when a trench he was working in caved in.

Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said 25-year-old Joshua Price was killed when a trench he was working inside simply gave way. Price suffocated to death.

According to Hardy Plumbing's website, they specialize in extreme utility construction where extreme depth and other utilities are involved.

OSHA is now investigating how the accident happened and if the company was using the correct safety procedures.

This is a developing story, stay tuned to News 12 NBC 26 for the latest.



Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

11:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Tragedy strikes a home construction site in Columbia County after a worker suffocates to death in a collapsed trench.

Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins says 25 year old Joshua Price was killed when a trench he was working inside simply gave way. Price lived on Starnes Street in Augusta and was working for Hardy Plumbing in Harlem.

People living in Riverwood Plantation were shocked by what happened there this afternoon.

It was supposed to be another day on the job but now one construction worker is dead and a neighborhood is shaken and somber. Jennifer Bowers and her family have called this place home for more than a year and says they've never seen anything like what happened Thursday afternoon.

"I was inside and I remember hearing a siren go by, which is unusual for this neighborhood," Bowers says. "I came outside and noticed that it had stopped just right down the street and we saw workers start running."

She says they were scrambling for help after a trench collapsed, trapping 25-year-old Joshua Price, one of many working on the site of a home under construction near Washington Road. She says the moment became overwhelming when she saw three workers come to her door asking for shovels.

"We saw a few people carrying shovels and then running by, you can tell they were looking for some," Bowers says. "When they said they needed shovels we got them. And you could see panic on their faces, you could see other workers stopping and just wondering what's going on."

She remembers workers from that site and almost every other in the neighborhood looking for any way to help dig their coworker and friend out. But by the time they returned to the site, Price was already dead.

Workers turned to pall-bearers as they gathered to mourn their friend next the a Gold Cross ambulance, which would soon be in route to the Coroner's office. She says it's a reminder of the danger these workers face every day.

"We don't think of this as a hazardous job like a policeman but accidents can happen and they are appreciated," Bowers says. "These men and these women are not unnoticed. They matter and they've become family, all of them. You see them working hard, working together and they are part of this community. It's sad today."

We have contacted OSHA offices in Atlanta about any pending investigations but have not heard back at this time. It is not yet known or confirmed if the construction company involved followed proper procedures before Price's death.

Stay with News 12 NBC 26 as this story develops.


8:40 p.m.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Columbia County Coroner's Office has released the name of the man killed in a trench cave-in.

According to Coroner Vernon Collins, the victim is Joshua Shane Price, 25, from Augusta. Coroner Collins said Price was pronounced dead at 3:17 p.m. Thursday.

Coroner Collins said his field examination concluded Price died from asphyxiation.

His body will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for an autopsy. Coroner Collins says he is not sure when that autopsy will happen because the lab is backed up.

The Coroner said Price lived on Starnes Street in Augusta.


COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A worker that was killed after the trench he was in caved in worked for Hardy Plumbing Company out of Harlem, Ga.

The company's website states they specialize in extreme utility construction where extreme depth and other utilities are involved.

We're working to find out how the accident happened and if the company was using the correct safety procedures.

3:49 p.m.
The coroner's office has responded to Riverwood Plantation after a construction worker got trapped in a ditch.

The coroner's office said the worker was in the trench when it caved in on one side and filled up with dirt. The worker wasn't able to breathe after the dirt filled in and squeezed the worker's upper chest.

News 12 NBC 26 has a crew on scene working to get more information.

Read the original version of this article at www.wrdw.com.