Authorities have identified the body of a 49-year-old landfill employee who was found inside a compacting machine that was buried under 40 feet of trash after a landslide.
The body of William L. Pierce, a decade-plus veteran with Advanced Disposal, was discovered Feb. 10 at the Greentree Landfill in Elk County, Pennsylvania. His body was recovered two days after a large amount of waste and dirt shifted off a large disposal area, burying large equipment and multiple workers.
Though four workers escaped the slide before emergency services arrived, Pierce remained unaccounted for and crews worked for days to locate him and the machinery still buried in the landfill. The night of the slide a state police helicopter was called in to try to detect heat in an effort to find him to no avail. Two days after the slide Pierce was found inside the operating booth of wheeled trash compactor under 40 feet of trash, news sources report. The county coroner reported Pierce died from compression asphyxiation due to environmental entrapment and his death has been ruled accidental.
However, as a result of the slide, Advanced Disposal announced the company is conducting visual inspections of all its landfills and has hired a third party to conduct independent reviews. “We are profoundly saddened to have lost such a valued member of our team,” a spokesman for Advanced Disposal said in a statement.
The Department of Environmental Protection is investigating the incident to see if the slide had any impact on the surrounding area, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating. The cause of the slide will likely remain unknown for months.