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Industry Site Accident Kills Fifth Laborer

Construction worker dies when dirt trench collapses

Jul 18, 2003 | The Sun Times

A 30-year-old man who had been on the job for two weeks was killed Wednesday afternoon when dirt collapsed on him while he was digging a trench at Santee Cooper's Winyah Generating Station.

Scott May, who celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary July 4, took this job within days of being laid off from Georgetown Steel on June 29.

He became the fifth person killed in a construction accident since December in Horry and Georgetown counties and the second person working construction to die this week.

Alfonso Morales, 41, of Loris, died Tuesday afternoon after falling about 40 feet from a roof in North Myrtle Beach. Morales was working with Performance Builders of Little River.

May was working with Landmark Construction, a company based in North Charleston, said Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson. The crew was building a foundation for a structure at the power plant, on U.S. 17 South.

"They were about 12 or 15 feet down," Johnson said. "The dirt bank gave way and covered him."

May's co-workers used their hands and shovels to free him from the trench, Johnson said.

May's official cause of death was suffocation.

Lesia Kudelka, spokeswoman for the Occupation Safety & Health Administration, said the investigation into the accident will take about six weeks. She doesn't know if work has stopped at the construction site.

OSHA investigates all industrial accidents involving a fatality.

"OSHA will be looking for safety factors," Johnson said.

"They coordinate their investigation with my findings to determine if there is anything preventable."

May was a standout football player at Georgetown High School and was in the Navy. He helped his parents, Bill and Linda May, at their former business, Garden Accents, on U.S. 17.

May's family, friends, former coaches and teachers were shocked Thursday by his death.

"He was a good person and a good son," Bill May said. "He never did anything to make me ashamed."

Bill May said his son was thinking about returning to college while he was laid off from the steel plant. He could have returned on the GI Bill or another federal program offered to employees and former employees of Georgetown Steel.

James Sanderson, head of Local Steelworkers Union 7898, said May worked in the rolling-mill and melt-casting departments.

He had been at the mill since June 2002.

"All of the employees at Georgetown Steel are in a state of sadness," Sanderson said. "He was very committed to his job and he enjoyed working at Georgetown Steel."

Keith Brown, principal at Georgetown Middle School, was May's assistant football coach in ninth grade. He worked with May when he became a weight lifter in high school. May won several awards in the sport while at Georgetown High.

They stayed in touch after May graduated in 1990.

"After he graduated, he would help me judge weight-lifting competitions," Brown said. "He was one of those kids you have fond memories of in your coaching career."

Scott May, 30, was killed at about 1 p.m. Wednesday at Santee Cooper's Winyah Generating Station when a trench collapsed on him.

Alfonso Morales, 41, of Loris, died Tuesday after falling about 40 feet from a roof in North Myrtle Beach.

Oscar Barojas, 23, of Galivants Ferry, died May 29 while working in a ditch installing pipe when he was hit in the chest by the bucket of a trackhoe.

Chad Edward Steffey, 18, of Longs, died May 8 after being being pulled into a cement mixer.

Juan Vazquez, 31, of Tabor City, N.C., died Dec. 4 after part of a ditch collapsed on him at the Coastal Grand Myrtle Beach mall site.

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