2 Employees Fatally Crushed By Slabs Of Granite In Sterling Heights

The Stone Warehouse of Michigan employees were immediately killed.

WWJ News
September 09, 2019 - 9:29 pm

Photo: Jon Hewett / WWJ

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STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WWJ) -- An investigation is underway after a workplace accident left two employees of the Stone Warehouse of Michigan dead.

Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin says crews were called to the scene on 19 Mile Road between Van Dyke Avenue and Merrill Road shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday. Initially, first responders believed that one worker had been trapped underneath slabs of granite.

"When we got on the scene, we could obviously see that the worker was pinned in there and it was obvious that it immediately killed him and it wasn’t anything of a rescue mode," Martin told WWJ's Jon Hewett.

Martin says as crews began figuring out how to mitigate the situation, employees at the warehouse discovered a second worker was missing and that's when first responders realized there were two fatalities.

Martin says crews had to move hundreds of pieces of granite.

"19 Mile Road in this area of Sterling Heights has a lot of granite shops," Martin said. "We reached out to a lot of the different shops and three businesses just dropped everything they were doing, came across the street with their pieces of equipment and started lugging pieces of granite out so we could move it safely."

Martin says the extra help and equipment was necessary in the body recovery process.

"These guys do it every day. We had a couple pieces that were cracked and shifted, so we used the technical rescue team to put some airbags in place, put some shoring in place so nothing else shifted," Martin said. "And we were able to get to the first victim about an hour ago and then we had to move a lot more granite and stuff that was hooked to their crane and we’re almost to the second victim."

The first victim was recovered some time after 7 p.m., and Martin estimated crews would reach the second victim around 9 p.m. The identities of both victims had not been released, as crews were still notifying family.

Martin says there will be a full investigation into the incident to determine what caused the granite slabs to fall, but he says it initially appeared the victims were attempting to move bundles of granite and something shifted, causing a cascade effect.

"There’s probably 30 different sheets that have cracked and become in pieces and that makes it hard to move it," Martin said.

Martin thanked all from neighboring businesses who jumped in to help and called it a tragic day.

"When we got here, workers were very broke up and we’re using these guys from across the street and down the street and this isn’t something they’re used to doing, while they’re used to moving granite every day, they’re not used to working around things that they’re going to be seeing," he said. "We’re going to make sure we can get help to the other workers here, the families that need it, the responders that took care of it and the guys that stepped up and helped us."

Martin says more information about the incident will be released on Tuesday.