Mark Holder Killed by Ditch Collapse in Champion, NY

Thursday, April 27th, 2023

In a tragic turn of events, Mark Holder of Redwood, New York lost his life on April 20, after the wall of a ditch he was working in unexpectedly collapsed. Holder, 59, was installing an underground drainage line for a residential construction project managed by Thirteen Colonies Construction, according to local reports. He had been employed as a Lead Carpenter for the company since 2014.

After the ditch caved in, other workers on site dug the buried Holder out of the ditch and valiantly attempted to perform CPR on him while waiting for first responders to arrive. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries, and was pronounced dead at Carthage Area Hospital.

Another worker named Shawn King was also inside the ditch when it collapsed, but fortunately escaped without severe injuries.

The construction site was located in Champion, New York, a town in northern New York within thirty miles of Redwood. Many law enforcement and investigative agencies arrived at the scene, including the New York State Police, West Carthage fire and police officials, Carthage Area Rescue, and the Great Bend Fire Department. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was also called to the tragic scene, and as of April 25, state police were still investigating the accident.

Mark Holder was a husband and father of two, with four grandchildren. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family members and loved ones in this extremely difficult time.

The Preventable Hazards of Cave-ins

The devastating collapse in Redwood underscores the danger of excavation work. According to OSHA, excavations are “any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface,” which includes ditches. This particular ditch may have met OSHA’s general definition for trenches, which are deeper than they are wide. Too often, these prove to be fatal places to work: in 2022 alone, a staggering 39 workers were killed by trench collapses.

When a collapse occurs, workers can quickly be overwhelmed by soil, which weighs 3,000 pounds per cubic yard. Because of this risk, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) emphasizes that no one should be working inside a trench that lacks a protective system. OSHA’s detailed guidelines for excavation work underscore the need for trained personnel to be on site, analyzing soil conditions and implementing appropriate safeguards. Effective protections often include shoring, which braces the walls of an excavation with strong materials, and shielding, which provides structures that shelter workers in case a cave-in occurs. Proper safety measures such as these might have made a vital difference on April 20, allowing Mr. Holder to live the full life he deserved. Investigators will do a forensic evaluation of the scene, interview witnesses, and determine whether those in charge of worksite safety on the site followed best practices in making sure it was as safe as possible.

Proven Justice for Construction Accident Victims

Construction accidents occur far too often, particularly in New York. Many of these accidents can be avoided if worksite safety rules are adhered to. Too many times, for a variety of reasons, worksite safety takes a backseat to profit. If you or a loved one has been in a serious, or even fatal construction accident, then you want an experienced, trusted and talented team on your side. Block O’Toole & Murphy is committed to fighting for construction accident victims and their families, and no firm has better results.

Some of our results for serious construction accidents include:

To speak with one of our wrongful death lawyers, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form online. We serve New York and New Jersey.


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