BEL AIR (CBS) —  LA City firefighters tried to rescue a trapped 27-year-old construction worker Thursday after the man apparently was buried in an eight-foot deep trench in Bel Air Estates.

Brian Humphrey of city fire says the worker was covered by at least three feet of dirt.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., officials said the rescue operation was being declared a “recovery” indication indicating the worker had died.

The man was reportedly working on a home (reportedly worth $5 million) near Benedict Canyon.

The collapse was reported just after 3:30 p.m. at a home in the 1200 block of North Benedict Canyon Drive.

Humphrey said about 75 firefighters were dispatched to the scene including a search-and-rescue team.

Suraya Fadel, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, says the team spent hours methodically recovering the body of the construction worker.

Beverly Hills Fire Department Battalion Chief Ralph Mundell said, “We do this step by step. We had a vacuum truck to remove some of the dirt and shore up the trench as we go.”

The unidentified man was reportedly a native of Guatemala. Fadel says the man was covered in tons of dirt and materials.

The homeowners and their attorney would not talk on camera.

It is not immediately known what kind of construction work was being done or what caused the trench to collapse.

CAL/OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is investigating.

Fadel said they are trying to determine if there was any criminal negligence or if the on-site tragedy is strictly accidental.

Rogelio Mejia says he and several co-workers watched helplessly as the dirt caved in on their friend and co-worker as he screamed for help.

Mejia told Fadel the crew was hired by the homeowners to do an extensive renovation of the backyard and had been on the job for about a month.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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