Plumber killed in trench collapse died days after birthday

Jessica Willey Image
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Body recovered of plumber buried alive at trench
The plumber was buried while doing a job behind a shopping center along the North Freeway at Parker.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Family members have identified the plumber who was buried alive in a trench in north Houston.

Jack Louis Martin, 41, was a journeyman plumber and worked in the industry for several years, according to relatives. He leaves behind a wife and teenage daughter.

Jack Lewis Martin, 41, was a journeyman plumber for several years, family members said.

His father, Larry Martin, went to the site of the collapse.

"If I could've traded his life for mine, I would," he said. "I called every hospital in the area, but he wasn't there."

Just last year, the family experienced another tragedy when Jack's sister had died of pneumonia.

"And now this," said the father with tears in his eyes. "He was celebrating his birthday just a few days ago."

Martin turned 41 on Monday. He was buried while doing a job behind a shopping center along the North Freeway at Parker.

"He had a great life," Larry said.

Martin had worked for Best Plumbing in north Houston for 16 years. The company has no OSHA violations, according to the agency's website. It is now investigating whether this is an on-the-job death.

According to the family, he had only an apprentice with him when the collapse occurred, and the trench wasn't shored, according to Martin's father, who's also a plumber.

According to officials with the Houston Fire Department, Martin was trapped in a trench measuring about 5 feet by 6 feet, when dirt fell in on him.

Nearby residents say they heard cries of, "Help me, help me," after the collapse as a co-worker rushed to his aid.

HFD Deputy Chief Douglas Harrison says Martin's co-worker tried to use a backhoe to dig him out, but then the equipment partially fell into the trench.

Larry collected his son's tools from his workplace Thursday. He plans to hold on to them.

A GoFundMe account has been made in Jack Martin's memory. You can make a donation here.

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