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Construction worker crushed after wall collapses identified

EL CAJON, Calif. -- Authorities Tuesday released the name of a 51-year-old construction worker killed in a structural collapse at an East County job site.

Fernando Martinez was taking a lunch break in a trench at the site of a planned car dealership at Wagner Road and North Marshall Avenue in El Cajon shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday when a concrete-block wall at the edge of an adjacent residential yard fell on him, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

The Escondido resident died at the scene of the accident. It took emergency crews more than an hour to cut through enough of the roughly 6-by 20- foot wall to get to his body, Heartland Fire & Rescue spokesman Sonny Saghera said.

One of the victim's co-workers suffered minor injuries in the collapse, Saghera said.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, was called in to investigate the fatality, as is standard in cases of serious workplace accidents.

“That homeowner should have records of the construction of the wall unless it was there when they bought the home,” said Personal Injury Attorney Craig Mcclellan.

Mcclellan has been investigating and handling workplace catastrophic injury and death cases for the past 35 years. He weighed in on the open death investigation and says everything pertaining to the homeowner and the construction company, including documents and procedures, will be looked at.

“Eventually, you can track down the construction of the wall, see if permits were pulled to build it, see if it was inspected and approved. And that would be a construction company or more than one construction company,” said McClellan.

McClellan says unfortunately, these types of accidents occur because of negligence and though it will take time investigators will eventually uncover that.

“We may be looking at the negligence of more than one construction company. So it’s important to find out if the general contractor was supervising subcontractors and what subcontractors were doing in respect to this trench and ensuring it wasn’t undermining the wall,” said McClellan. “Ultimately, responsibility will be determined and I expect that the people responsible will be held to account for this unfortunate death."

Cal/OSHA and the San Diego District Attorney’s office will return Wednesday morning to resume their investigation. OSHA officials told FOX 5 it could take two to three months to complete.