Worker Dies, Another Injured After Trench Collapse at Skookumchuck Wind Project Site


One person working at the Skookumchuck Wind Project construction site is dead and another is critically injured after a trench collapsed on the two workers Thursday morning.

The incident happened about 15 miles off Vail Cutoff Loop near Rainier. Lt. Ray Brady, with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, said other employees were at the site and reported the incident shortly before 11 a.m.

Vehicles responded to the 16300 block of Vail Loop Road, which was the closest address to the scene.

“My understanding is it was almost an hour drive off of Vail Loop,” Brady said.

According to updates from dispatch, first responders had to be shuttled up to the scene by personal vehicles.

Workers were installing an underground power line in a trench with an excavator when the collapse occurred. The two workers were the only ones reportedly injured.

Brady said the identities of the two individuals have not been disclosed to the sheriff’s office.

This incident comes as RES-Americas finishes development on a 38-turbine wind farm on the border of Thurston and Lewis counties. The site was originally scheduled to produce power in January.

Workers have been working to finish the structure currently owned by Southern Power. The site is in contract to produce energy for Puget Sound Energy for 20 years.

Weather conditions on the ridge can be tumultuous at times, a RES-Americas executive previously said, and the region is currently experiencing cold conditions which have led to minor snow showers in the area.

Brady said the regional Special Operations Rescue Team was dispatched due to the nature of the incident.

The worker who survived was quickly rescued after first responders got to the scene. The person was quickly transported down the ridge to an airport.

Emergency responders were still working on digging out the body of the other worker by early afternoon, Brady said.