trench rescue

Authorities ID Construction Worker Who Died in Newton Wall Collapse

Family members say 55-year-old Russell Harron, of Billerica, was a father of three.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The construction worker who died when a concrete wall at a construction site at a home in a Boston suburb collapsed on him has been identified as a 55-year-old Billerica man.

The man who died Thursday in Newton was identified by the Middlesex district attorney's office Friday as Russell Harron.

Family members say Harron was a father of three.

Harron's employer, M. DiStasio Excavation Contractors, out of North Reading, Massachusetts, released a statement Friday calling what happened "a tragic accident on the job that resulted in" Harron's death.

“Russell Harron was a hard-working and diligent employee at M. DiStasio Excavation Contractors," President Michael DiStasio said. "Our hearts are broken. Russell’s family has our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences on this unbearable loss."

DiStasio said the company is cooperating fully with authorities in their investigation.

The man had been working in the foundation of the residence when a wall collapsed and pinned him to the ground.

Firefighters responded to the scene just before 8 a.m., Fire Chief Gino Lucchetti said. Rescuers needed specialized equipment to try and get to the victim, he said, and it quickly became apparent that what started as a rescue effort had turned into a recovery effort.

Harron was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled. No one else was hurt.

The roughly 10-foot tall wall in the yard was not attached to the house, Lucchetti said, but the district attorney described it as part of the foundation.

City police and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to the scene and are investigating.

The death is the 15th confirmed workplace fatality in the state this year, and the sixth in the construction industry, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), a workers rights advocacy group.

Friday, MassCOSH said in a statement that Harron's death is a tragic reminder of the critical safety measures that should always be in place for workers who construct walls and trenches.

“Our thoughts go out to the friends, family, and coworkers of our lost brother,” the group's executive director, Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, said in the statement. “When employers don’t follow established safety standards, it can have profound consequences. From devastated families very suddenly losing a loved one and survivor’s guilt of coworkers, to first responders experiencing profound trauma recovering a lost worker, so many of our community members can be affected by unsafe work. We owe it to those we have lost on the job and those we can still protect to end needlessly dangerous jobs once and for all.”

According to MassCOSH, a similar wall collapse death occurred in 2017 in Medford, when a partially excavated foundation wall fell onto Michael Santini while he worked.

"In the past, tragic events like this have been caused when employers fail to brace walls against collapse - a critical safeguard - and fail to adhere to basic, legally required safeguards," the statement added.

Contact Us