Lakeville police have identified the man who died in a trench collapse Tuesday as Gerald Lyle Thompson, 51, of Apple Valley.
It took two hours to dig away the sides of the trench to allow the Dakota County Special Operations Team to safely recover Thompson’s body at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to Lakeville Deputy Police Chief John Kornmann.
Thompson’s brother, Dennis Richard Thompson, 54, of Burnsville, was operating an excavator at the time of the collapse. He tried to rescue his brother, but the quantity of soil that fell proved too much, police said.
The brothers work for DSM Excavating, of Hastings, and were installing drain tile on the perimeter of a lot in the 9000 block of 179th Street when the trench collapsed around 3:45 p.m.
Kornmann said Gerald Thompson was trapped in the bottom of the trench, which was 6 to 8 feet deep, and that the quantity of the wet soil that fell on him likely weighed as much as a small car.
Lakeville police and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials will continue to investigate the cause of the accident Wednesday, Kornmann said. Kornmann said authorities filled the trench and declared the site safe before leaving the scene Tuesday.