Engineer Dies in Fall Into Shaft at Construction Site

Times Staff Writer

A West Covina engineer was killed Wednesday when he fell down a deep hole at a Duarte building site and was not discovered until workers returned after lunch and continued their digging.

The victim was declared dead before his body was recovered from the hole, authorities said. A family spokesman identified him as Arthur Guadalupe Velasquez, 63.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage said the man apparently fell down the 45-foot hole when no one was looking and died at the bottom of the shaft.

Authorities said it was being dug as part of a sewer project for a new housing development.


The accident occurred at the base of a hilly area off Woodbluff Avenue, near Sunnydale Drive.

David Thies, a county fire battalion chief based in Covina, said Velasquez arrived to inspect the work while the driller was at lunch.

“When the auger operator got back he began working again and discovered that someone had been in the hole,” Thies said. He said Velasquez was working for the RKA Consulting Group of Walnut.

County crews, including an urban search-and-rescue team, were sent to the site about 1:30 p.m., Savage said.

Velasquez was already dead when a paramedic reached him about 4 p.m. Savage said that before sending anyone down the shaft, officials wanted to make sure it was stable and that the air was breathable.

“We wanted to make sure [it wasn’t] hazardous,” he said. “We also started to pump good air into the hole as a precaution.”

Savage said the rescue crew also used cameras to examine the hole before sending the paramedic down.

“When he got to the victim, it was obvious that he had died from his injuries,” Savage said.