At 6:20 p.m. on Sept. 8, Leader RCMP and EMS, Maple Creek RCMP as well as the Fox Valley and Richmound fire crews responded to the lagoon located near the west access road to the village where three men were working on sewer lines. RCMP reported two of the men fell 12 feet down into the lines and a partial collapse occurred. The third man called emergency services.
Responders were able to pull a 25-year-old man from Calgary to the surface. He was transported to Maple Creek Hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Emergency crews were unable to immediately reach the second man in the sewer lines due to noxious hydrogen sulfide gas. A local farmer brought equipment which was used to lift the 24-year-old man from Calgary to the surface, where he was pronounced dead.
Both men were employed by a company from Swift Current, which was cleaning sewer lines in the village all day. Police are not identifying the company. The men’s names are not being released at this time.
There was rain, sleet and high winds at the time of the accident, but it is unknown if this was a factor.
Hydrogen sulfide or sewer gas is a colourless, toxic, highly flammable gas with a foul odour at low concentrations, but is not detectable by odour at high concentrations. It occurs as a result of the breakdown of organic matter by bacteria in oxygen-deprived environments such as sewer systems.
The Occupational Health and Safety Division in the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety has taken over the investigation. Autopsies will occur and the investigation continues with the Office of the Chief Coroner.