Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three men underground in a neighborhood of Key Largo.
The three men worked for Douglas N. Higgins, a construction company contracted to do the work by Monroe County. They were in an underground drainage pipe this morning when they collapsed.
A Key Largo firefighter who went down to rescue them also collapsed. He and two of the workers were brought up to the surface by firefighters and deputies on the scene. The two workers were confirmed dead at the scene; CPR was performed on the firefighter who was later airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center, where he is still being treated. The third worker’s body was brought to the surface this afternoon.
The deceased workers are identified as 34 year old Elway Gray of Fort Lauderdale, 49 year old Louis O’Keefe of Little Torch Key and 24 year old Robert Wilson of Summerland Key.
Three Sheriff’s deputies who were exposed to fumes taken to Mariner’s hospital for treatment.
Five households at the end of Long Key Road were evacuated .They were allowed to return home just after 2 p.m. after tests showed it was safe for them to do so.
A Miami-Dade County Hazmat team responded to assist with the scene. They performed tests in the pipe where the workers collapsed. Their tests revealed there was both Methane gas and Hydrogen Sulphide gas coupled with low levels of oxygen in the pipe.
The Medical Examiner’s Office responded and transported the bodies to their offices where autopsies will be performed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responding to the scene for their own investigation into the circumstances of the workers deaths.