On Tuesday morning an employee of the contracting company P.A. Landers was killed in Plymouth after his truck became buried under a mound of sand. Charles Pace, aged 65, was operating a bulldozer at the time of the accident. It was reported that Mr. Pace was moving sand onto a conveyer belt within a sand pit when an avalanche-like collapse trapped him inside of his vehicle. Firefighters on the scene went on to say that after the sand accumulated on top of the bulldozer; the truck then rolled over, trapping Charles Pace inside.
A fellow employee of P.A. Landers alerted authority figures around 11:00 AM after he came across Pace’s submerged vehicle. The Plymouth Fire Chief G. Edward Bradley states that when firefighters arrived on the scene, two employees were already attempting to dig through the sand with handheld shovels in an effort to save Charles Pace. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. The weight of the sand had caused the windshield to crack—filling the cab of the truck with sand, and likely suffocating Charles Pace in the process. While no official cause of death has been released, Fire Chief Bradley said that he believes Mr. Pace died from a combination of suffocation and trauma.
Just four minutes after firefighters arrived on scene, Pace was declared dead. Due to the sheer volume of sand that had amassed on his truck however, rescue workers were not able to retrieve his body until after 3:00 PM. Those on scene reported that as soon as they could remove the sand, more piles started slipping in again.
The retrieval consisted of 12 firemen, 30 members of Plymouth’s Technical Rescue Team, and a variety of heavy machinery. Fire Chief Bradley went on to say that at one point they needed to bring in a vacuum in order to remove some of the sand from the scene. He estimates that approximately 150 feet of sand collapsed on top of Charles Pace’s vehicle at the time of the accident.
Millie Pace, Charles Pace’s wife of 46 years, told reporters that her husband was a wonderful person who loved helping people. The couple has three children and eight grandchildren. One of Pace’s son-in-laws, who also works for P.A. Landers, went to the cite of the accident with other family members following the tragedy. Pace’s son also told reporters that Charles had been working for the company for over 14 years. Charles Pace had 20 years of experience working with loads of sand and gravel. Everyone involved is expressing a deep sense of disbelief.
The responders on the scene said they had never seen anything like it before. Sites such as these are carefully monitored and inspected for safety issues. The Plymouth work-site on Hedge’s Pond Road where this accident took place had an inspection just a few weeks prior—and everything went well. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration are overseeing the investigation into this horrific accident.