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3 construction workers die and 3 police officers collapse in sewer pipe after inhaling poisonous gases

By Mason White 6:40 PM January 19, 2017
Sewer pipe (illustration)
By: Tanya Malhotra

(Scroll down for video) Three people died and several police officers were injured after climbing into a sewer pipe, where they inhaled poisonous gases, according to police in Florida.

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 on Monday, 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 in the afternoon.

The deceased workers were 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.

The three Sheriff’s deputies who were exposed to the fumes, were taken to the Mariner’s hospital for treatment. Five households at the end of Long Key Road, were evacuated.

They were allowed to return home just after 2:00 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 that there was both Methane gas and Hydrogen Sulphide gas coupled with low levels of oxygen in the pipe.