Family, friends remember man killed in Bel Aire trench collapse

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Update Friday (Dec. 22):

Sedgwick County says Jesse Foster is the man that died in a trench collapse on Wednesday morning in Bel Aire.

Tim Hester, a man that knew Foster for more than 20 years says when he got the news he had to stop and pull over for a little bit.

Police say Foster was doing subcontractor work, which put in an underground trench. He was in a 10-foot hole when dirt collapsed on top of him.

"He was just a really great guy and had a huge heart and a lot of compassion for everyone which are just some of the traits I admired about him and he was really strong-willed, he liked to get things done," says Hester.

Eyewitness News spoke with Foster's family who says what happened is beyond comprehension and devasting.

Foster's stepbrother tells us he was a hardworking and loyal person that leaves behind a big family.

Hester says he lived next to Foster for years growing up and got to know him and his family very well. He says it is tough to think about Foster's kids losing their father.

The family has a GOFUNDME page to help support the family and his kids.

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3:45 p.m.

Bel Aire Police confirm the man buried under tons of dirt near 53rd and Webb has died. Crews were able to reach the man and recover his body.

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2:55 p.m.

Emergency crews in Bel Aire are now digging by hand to reach a man buried at the bottom of a trench near 53rd and Webb Road.

Bel Aire Police Chief Darrell Atteberry said around 10:30 a.m., the man was in a 10-foot hole when the dirt shifted and 16 to 20 tons of dirt fell on him.

At the time of the incident, emergency crews knew where the man was and marked that location.

"They've been using heavy equipment, and now they're using small implement and hands to get him removed from the hole," said Atteberry.

Atteberry said the man was part of a four-man crew doing subcontractor work for Wilks Underground Utilities, the company putting in an underground line.

"They're grieving at this point," said Atteberry. "They know as much as you know and they're still holding onto hope."

He said he did not know how much longer it would take to recover the man or when his name would be released.

OSHA is on the scene and they have been speaking with those involved.

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Update: The Sedgwick County Fire Technical Rescue team is working to uncover a man who was buried by dirt Wednesday morning when a trench collapsed.

The accident happened around 10:30 a.m. at 53rd and Industry (near Webb Road) in Bel Aire.

Chief Darrell Atteberry with the Bel Aire Police Department said the man was putting in a pipe when the accident happened.

He was at the bottom of a trench that measures 3 to 4 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet deep when the dirt shifted and 16 to 20 tons fell on top of him.

Atteberry said the man is 25 to 29 years old. He works for Wilks Underground Utilities.

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Emergency crews are working a collapse just north of Wichita.

911 dispatchers received a call about the collapse around 10:30 a.m. near 53rd Street North and Webb Road.

Our news partners at KFDI report a construction trench has collapsed and one person is reported to be unresponsive after the collapse.


Eyewitness News has a crew on the scene.