A 51-year-old man died at a residential construction site in Lakeville on Tuesday after a trench collapsed, trapping him under 6 to 8 feet of heavy, wet dirt.

Authorities arrived at the scene on the 9000 block of 179th Street around 3:45 p.m., said John Kornmann, Lakeville Police deputy chief.

The victim, a subcontractor with DSM Excavating of Hastings, was installing drain tile at the site. Colleagues — including his brother — and first responders were unable to reach the man due to the instability of the soil, Kornmann said. Eventually, a firefighter was lowered down into the trench and discovered the man was deceased.

Being trapped under that much soil would be equivalent to having a small vehicle fall on a person, Kornmann said.

The Dakota County Special Operations Team, which specializes in trench rescue, was brought in to help with recovery efforts Tuesday evening. After digging away at the sides of the trench for two hours, authorities were able to enter the scene safely and recover the victim's body around 7 p.m.

Police said the trench was then filled in. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

Liz Sawyer