Trench collapse victims identified

The collapse of a trench killed one man and injured another on Oct. 10, 2017.


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wyoming Public Safety officials have released the names of the two men who were trapped when a trench collapsed in Wyoming.

A father and son were each caught in the trench, killing one of them. The incident took place around 1:44 p.m. Monday at a residence on Jordan Street SW near Division Avenue.

Christopher James Godfrey, 30, was killed after he was completely buried when the trench collapsed. A rescue team was able to recover his body from the trench.

Russell Godfrey, 53, was also partially buried in the trench when it collapsed. However, firefighters and medical personnel were able to rescue him from the trench and take him to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital for treatment.

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the incident.

Investigators are giving Russell Godfrey time to grieve before trying to get answers as to what happened to him and his son.

Wyoming Deputy Fire Chief Brian Bennett said it could be as long as a week before investigators speak with him.

A person at the home on Jordan Street said Russell Godfrey owns it, and that he and his son were digging a trench to replace the home’s sewer line.

The trench was about eight feet deep with large amounts of soil piled on the sides.

Rescuers estimate the pair were 10 to 15 feet apart when the collapse happened.

“They could have been right next to one another and the debris pushed them far apart, or vice versa,” Bennett said.

When firefighters arrived to the scene, Russell Godfrey was buried to his waist and conscious. Chistopher Godfrey was buried under several feet of heavy, solid chunks of the driveway that ran next to the trench above him.

Rescuers were able to carefully dig around Russell Godfrey to free him, but determined they were too late to save his son. They shored up the walls of the trench and used a Department of Public Works vacuum to remove the dirt around him to avoid the risk of firefighters having to dig him out of the trench.

“It’s a tough decision to be in but you have to make that decision,” Bennett said. “And our guys, at that point, we made the right call.”

Another problem is what to do with the trench. Although there is safety fencing surrounding it, the trench remains a safety hazard.

City officials are working on a solution.