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1 Dead, 1 Missing After Collin Co. Sewer Line Accident

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Story updated at 4:20 p.m.

FAIRVIEW (CBSDFW.COM) – An accident in Collin County has left one worker dead and rescuers searching for another man.

Initially, fire departments were called to the 200 block of Dumont Court, in Fairview, to rescue two unconscious utility workers.

The men, contractors with S.J. Lewis Construction and working for the North Texas Municipal Water District, had been sent to unclog a sewer line just in back of some residential property.

Three workers were attempting to correct the problem when one of them went down into a manhole and was likely overcome by some sort of sewer gas.

Another worker reportedly went down to assist his co-worker and is believed to also have succumbed to the fumes.

The third worker at the site, Jose Cruz, is the brother of one of the victim’s. “My brother knew about these accidents and he shouldn’t have gone in, but I guess he felt helpless so he tried to save the other person’s life,” he said, fighting back tears.

Fairview firefighters arrived at the scene first and within minutes determined one of the workers was deceased.

Fairview Fire Chief Dick Price told CBS 11 News that rescue crews are continuing their search for the suspected second victim.

“Perhaps the rapid flow of the water in the sewer system may have caused the two to become separated from each other. We don’t know for sure at this time,” he said.

Chief Price said there was no indication there had been a fire or explosion and the cause of the fumes has not been determined.

The ‘trench rescue team’ from the Allen Fire Department was called to assist. More than a dozen rescuers from both Fairview and Allen worked to retrieve the body of the first victim and locate the second man.

Firefighters are using a tripod device to remove the known deceased person.

Before going down into the manhole rescuers had to make sure the atmosphere was safe.

As for locating the second worker, Chief Price said, “We’re very optimistic, obviously, or want to be optimistic that the other one is alive. But quite frankly based on the condition of the first individual and the fact they were in the same environment at the same time – we’re obviously hoping for the best, but obviously we’re concerned for his well being at this time.”

Cruz told CBS 11 News his brother was married has five children.

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating.

According to the S.J. Lewis website, the employer of the utility workers, the company specializes in underground utilities, tunneling and earth work. S.J. Lewis is based in Minnesota and has offices in Mansfield and San Antonio.

The Town of Fairview is approximately 25 miles northeast of Dallas.

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