The man who died when a trench collapsed on him in Belton on Thursday was identified as Donald “D.J.” Meyer of Oak Grove.
Meyer, who was 33, was the sole parent of an 8-year-old boy, Ashten, according to a GoFundMe account set up for the boy and to help pay for funeral expenses. The boy’s mother died four years ago, and he is now being cared for by a grandmother.
Meyer was a subcontractor working in a trench outside a Belton home, digging a new line for a home in the 600 block of Emerson Drive on Thursday morning. Meyer had climbed into the 12-foot-deep trench when the walls caved. It took firefighters hours to reach him, digging through the dirt while shoring up walls of the new trench to prevent another collapse.
Belton Fire Chief Norman Larkey said Belton police and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have been investigating the accident.
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The family was waiting in Belton on Thursday with a local minister while the body was being recovered.
Larkey said the Belton Fire Department was dispatched to the accident about 11:34 a.m., and the body was recovered about 7:30 p.m. by the Kansas City Fire Department Rescue Division, which serves the region in these incidents.
He said he called for them as soon as the trench accident was reported because they have the equipment and expertise to handle the incidents. When Larkey arrived at the scene, Belton police and firefighters were attempting to shore up the trench, but he ordered them to stop for safety reasons.
The long recovery period was because firefighters had to use hand tools to dig their way to the body, Larkey said.
“When I heard it was 12 feet deep, I knew from previous experience it was a body recovery,” Larkey said.
Larkey said that Belton police and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have been investigating the accident. The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of death, under a service agreement with Cass County, Larkey said. A spokesman for the medical examiner had not returned a call for that information Friday afternoon.