Worker dies in trench collapse at Sugarcreek Twp. home construction site

A married father of three from Miami County who died in a Saturday trench collapse at a home construction site could have been trapped for hours before anyone noticed.

  • Worker trenching for sewer pipe at time of collapse
  • Incident reported at 4 p.m. on Catalpa View Way
  • Neighbor noticed machinery running with no operator

Officials quickly determined it was going to be a recovery effort rather than a rescue of worker in a trench mishap.

>>PHOTOS: From the scene

The trench collapse was reported just after 4 p.m. on Catalpa View Way, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. It’s in a neighborhood under construction off Upper Bellbrook Road across from Bellbrook Cemetery in Sugarcreek Twp.

Michael Guadagno, coordinator of the regional technical rescue and a battalion chief for the Washington Twp. Fire Department, said that it had been “up to four hours since the last time anybody spoke to him or saw him above ground.”

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The worker had been trenching for sewer pipe, and was about 8 feet down.

“A neighbor in the area noticed that the piece of heavy equipment was running all day and didn’t see anyone around it, so they went to investigate. They noticed somebody in the bottom. They shut down the equipment and called 911,” Guadagno said.

Trench rescue and recovery is a technical operation that requires a lot of people with special equipment and skills, which is why departments pool resources, Guadagno said.

The operation in Sugarcreek Twp. involved representatives from about a dozen fire departments in the area, and the regional team serves eight area counties, he said.

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The team was working to widen the trench in a process called “stepping out” to help prevent further collapse. Then people with shovels dig out the worker to recover his body.

“It’s meticulous work because we don’t want to get anyone else hurt,” Guadagno said.

The victim was not identified by officials, but his family said he was Dalbert Burton, a married father of three and grandfather of two.

“We just celebrated our 24th anniversary,” his wife, Angel Burton, said.

The Burtons live in Union Twp. near Laura in Miami County. According to Dalbert Burton’s Facebook profile, he went to Troy High School.

Angel Burton said he had been doing trenching work for six years and that he worked for the company for the past seven years. She also said he had been working alone at the job site.

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Their oldest son, Cody Burton, said he wanted people to know how dangerous the job is and said that his father shouldn’t have been working by himself without a spotter.

The family was visibly emotional, but wanted to thank the neighbor who called 911.

We have been working to find out whether the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation, which is typical following workplace accidents that result in death.


A rescue is underway after a trench collapsed, trapping a man, at a Sugarcreek Twp. home build site.

The collapse happened just after 4 p.m. on Catalpa View Way in a neighborhood under construction off Upper Bellbrook Road across from Bellbrook Cemetery.

We are on the way and will update this report as we learn more.

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