VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Police arrested the owner of a Manchester construction company and an equipment operator on Friday as a result of an investigation into a fatal trench collapse that occurred in Vernon this past July.

On July 22, Vernon police and fire officials responded to the scene of a trench collapse at a new housing development off Bolton Branch Road.

Upon arrival, officials learned that a construction worker, Dennis Slater, 56, of East Windsor, became trapped inside a trench when dirt caved over him. Slater worked for Botticello Inc.

Police said emergency personnel and construction workers were able to free Slater from the trench and provide medical assistance. Slater was transported to Manchester Memorial Hospital by ambulance, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Dennis Botticello, 67, of Suffield, owns Botticello Inc, a Connecticut construction company.

Before the collapse, Slater worked with equipment operator Glen Locke, 65, of Somers, to lay down pipe inside the trench.

According to the arrest warrant, Locke told police the trench they were working on had collapsed twice that day.

Slater worked inside the trench to lay down the pipe, while Locke operated the excavator to move the pipe into the trench by utilizing the machine’s bucket and a chain.

Manchester contractor faces $375K in OSHA fines after employee dies in trench collapse.

While the two were working together to lay down the eighth section of pipe, Locke noticed that a part of the trench started to collapse about 100 feet away from them.

Locke said about two minutes later, a second part of the trench started to collapse while Slater was inside.

Slater was unable to get out before the dirt caved in on him. Construction workers called 911 and attempted to dig him out using a shovel and equipment.

After speaking with Locke, police learned a trench box was not used to maintain the wall at the time of the collapse.

When police asked Locke if it was normal protocol to use a trench box, he said yes.

“Yeah, in some certain applications, we do, but the banks were holding up just fine here. I guess we play the odds,” Locke said.

“This is a history with this company, and with these two gentlemen actually, they were cited back in 2015, I believe it says in the warrant, and they were told to have the boxes, and he has boxes, they have them, and have access to more if they need them, so that’s also the other damning effect there,” said Vernon Police Department Lt. Rob Marra.

Botticello and Locke were both charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree reckless endangerment due to Slater’s death. Locke and Botticello were held on a $50,000 court-set bond and appeared in Rockville Superior Court.

“Dennis Botticello and Glen Locke now face first-degree manslaughter and first-degree reckless endangerment charges for failing to provide legally required safeguards that could have prevented a deadly cave-in,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “These arrests are the result of collaborative investigations by local and federal law enforcement groups that show OSHA will use all available enforcement tools at its disposal to ensure workers are afforded the protections provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.” 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vernon Police Department at 860-872-9126.