STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – The Sterling Heights Fire and Police Departments responded to the report of an employee that had become trapped under slabs of granite at the Stone Warehouse located at 7235 19 Mile Road. The report was made to 911 at 2:33 p.m.
The caller stated the employee was trapped between several slabs of granite. Upon arrival, Police and Fire Departments quickly determined a 30-year-old man from Warren as well as a 53-year-old man from Shelby Township had both suffered fatal injuries in the accident.
The operation switched to a body recovery where a safe operation is the goal. Dozens of large slabs of granite had shifted and broke, and there were many more slabs that needed to be moved to reach the trapped victims. First responders sought the help of neighboring businesses with employees who had both the equipment to move granite slabs and the expertise and experience to do it safely. Employees from Tile & Stone Works at 7700 19 Mile, Luxury Granite and Design at 7649 19 Mile and Rock Solid Granite at 7440 19 Mile all aided in the recovery. Macomb County Technical Rescue Team also provided highly skilled personnel and equipment capable of stabilizing the slabs of granite at the scene.
After a few hours of a coordinated effort, the body of the first victim was recovered just before 6 p.m. The coordinated recovery continued until the body of the second victim was recovered just after 9 p.m. Representatives from MIOSHA and The Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office were on scene to begin their investigations, and the Sterling Heights Fire and Police Departments also conducted investigations. The building was turned back over to management of Stone Warehouse when the recovery operation was complete. It is unknown when the company will resume operations.
Preliminary investigations show the employees were using an overhead crane to move several slabs of granite. When those slabs were lifted off their storage rack, several other slabs of granite shifted, causing a cascade of several more slabs of granite shifting. In that process, both employees were pinned, immediately suffering fatal injuries.
“This was a tragic day for everyone involved, so please keep them in your thoughts as they all try to deal with this tragedy,” said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin. Grief counseling has been offered to the family, co-workers and those who responded to the rescue effort.
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