Friday, May 12, 2017

52-year-old Patrick Parks died while trying to save his brother when a sewer pipe hole collapsed in Joaquin, Texas

A man died while trying to save his brother when a sewer pipe hole collapsed Tuesday in Joaquin, Texas, authorities say. (Source: KSLA News 12) JOAQUIN, TX (KSLA)

 Wednesday, May 10th 2017, 11:34 pm EDT
By Jasmine Payoute, Digital Journalist

Man dies trying to save brother from sewer hole collapse in ETX

Authorities, relatives identify man killed in East Texas cave-in. (Source: KSLA News 12)

Joaquin, Texas, volunteer firefighters did everything possible to help all three men who were in a trench that collapsed Tuesday, a Fire Department member said.

His comments came in response to criticism from relatives of the brothers involved in the accident.

"We were able to help two of them. One of them we were not," Joaquin volunteer firefighter Stephen Ewing said.

"That is a tragedy. But we did everything possible we could do to help those men."

East Texas authorities have identified 52-year-old Patrick Parks, of Joaquin, as the man who died while trying to save his brother when the sewer pipe hole collapsed.

The accident happened about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on East Saddle Street in Joaquin, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office reports.

Parks' brother, identified by family members as Lloyd Parks, was flown to University Health in Shreveport. They say he is expected to survive.

"It was a tragedy," Joaquin Mayor Bill Baker said. "The city is investigating it. All of the proper authorities have been notified. And they also are investigating it."

Family members of the brothers say the city should have done more to save the life of their loved one.

"Should've done more … Should've done more … . Half of them standing around up here on this level while that man was down there in that hole," said Don Thompson, a cousin of the Parks brothers.

Thompson said Patrick Parks, who was not a city worker, reportedly was helping his brother Lloyd and another city worker when tragedy struck.

"Sometimes his brother comes by and he helps him. Sometimes they get him to help out. So this particular time, they must have told him they needed his help."

A contractor and two municipal workers were attempting to clasp sewer pipes together when the east wall of the hole they were in collapsed, allowing mud to pour in, the Sheriff's Office reports.

The contractor was able to escape the hole unhurt, but the city employees became trapped.

That's when an onlooker jumped into the hole to save his brother but was killed when the other side of the hole collapsed, authorities said.

Rescue personnel were able to free the city workers, but the onlooker did not survive.

It's a version of the story Thompson thinks is incorrect.

"They had asked my partner 'Did he jump in and save him?' He said no, he was already inside the ditch down off in there, like way at the back … where that pipe at. ... That's where they were."

Jan Zuniga said she was the one who called 911.

"I was floored, I was absolutely floored. … I wish I could do more, but there was just nothing I could do."

She said she saw Lloyd Parks when she arrived on the scene.

"Lloyd was stuck right over here waist deep, but Pappy (Patrick) was already covered up. ... And they left him down there for so long, he didn't survive," Zuniga said.

“Man, it was about 11 o'clock before they got Patrick out," Thompson said. "… I mean he stayed there about 3 to 4 hours underwater the whole while … face down.”

Now the small East Texas town is reeling.

And firefighters say their thoughts and prayers are with the Parks family.

"It's a very close-knit community; and they always pull together in times like this," said Baker, the mayor.


Family and friends give details of fatal sewer line accident in Shelby County

Posted: May 11, 2017 11:32 AM EST Updated: May 10, 2017 9:35 PM EST
By Bia Roldan


Shelby county officials have identified the man who died last night after being trapped in a hole while trying to rescue his brother.

That man is 52-year-old Patrick Parks of Joaquin, Tx.

Deputies say before the accident, Parks was watching his brother Lloyd and another city employee.

The two were repairing a sewer line on E. Saddle Street, Joaquin.

Deputies say the two employees and a contractor were trying to clasp sewer pipes together when the east wall of the hole they were in collapsed.

The contractor escaped, leaving the two workers trapped.

That's when deputies say Parks jumped in to help right before the west side of the hole fell in.

Friends and family members who live right around the construction site witnessed what happened.

Patrick Parks' cousin, Don Thompson says when he got there at around 6 p.m. the three men were all in the hole while the excavator was digging.

"I yelled saying it's dangerous for y'all to be down in there," Thompson recalls.

Thompson says he saw 54-year-old Lloyd Parks raise his arm as if signaling the excavator to stop.

"But he didn't see his hand," Thompson explained. "He already had a loaded bucket of dirt. So when he come up with it, he hit my cousin top of the head. Put a gash right there, and by the time he dropped that dirt over here on this side, a whole wall of dirt right here on this side of the road had caved in on his brother Patrick."

Thompson and other witnesses say they could only see Patrick's arm for hours while the rest of his body was faced down and remained under the dirt.

"I wanted to go out there and pull them up but they wouldn't let me," Thompson said. "They told me it wasn't safe."

Thompson says crews used shovels in the recovery.

It took rescue personnel hours to free the city employees but Patrick Parks did not survive.

Thompson says Parks' body was recovered at around 11:30 p.m. It was placed in a body bag and taken away.

Many spectators are saying there should have been a trench box to protect workers while in the hole.

Jan Zuniga was a neighbor and friend of the family who called 911.

She questions if correct safety measures were followed and if the tragedy was avoidable.

"I think all this could have been prevented if they had built structures on each side," Zuniga said. "And that boy in the tractor shouldn't have been digging in there while those boys were in the hole. That's a big no-no."

Thompson was one of several others who echoed the statement.

"He shouldn't have been digging with them in there like that," Thompson said."They didn't have the proper tools."

Zuniga says the event shook her up.

"It's kinda hard to swallow because I just saw Patrick walk by before all this happened," Zuniga said.

Lloyd Parks was taken to a hospital in Shreveport.

Family members visiting the scene on Wednesday say he had a cracked skull but is expected to recover.

In a news release, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office expressed its appreciation to the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department and the Logansport Fire Department for their assistance with the rescue and recovery.

"The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office extends prayers for the Parks family," the release states.

The accident is being investigated by the city of Joaquin as well as the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.