Three Contractors Dead After Being Trapped in a Manhole

By Jason Cockerham

(UC) — Officials in Fort Wayne, Ind., announced that three contractors working on a storm sewer project in Columbia City died Tuesday after being trapped in a manhole. 

Mayor Ryan Daniel of Columbia City said in a statement that when first responders arrived at the scene, three people were trapped in a sewer manhole approximately twenty feet below the surface.

About five feet of water was present in the manhole.

Medical personnel immediately began performing life-saving procedures at the scene, but all three individuals were declared dead at the scene.

Fort Wayne Fire Dept. spokesperson Adam O'Connor said their Technical Rescue Team was called to assist crews in Columbia City.

Fort Wayne’s NBC affiliate WPTA reported that Jason Ball, 48, and his son 21-year-old Bronson Ball, died on the job, as well as 43-year-old Fort Wayne man Douglas Kramer.

The coroner's report says the men were overcome by fumes and then drowned, WPTA reported.

Their deaths were ruled an accident.

“The City of Columbia City extends our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in a utility accident today, and to their employer,” Mayor Daniel said.

It was the first day of the project and the contractors had been hired by the city for a storm sewer project.

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