PETAL, MS. - Two contractors from Richland who were hired by the City of Petal are dead after working at a lift station on 7th Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
According to Mayor Hal Marx the incident occurred around 2:15 p.m. A worker above ground called emergency personnel after he realized the two workers needed help.
Mayor Marx said firefighters were unable to save the trapped father-son duo.
Forrest County Coroner Lisa Klem identified the two victims as Terry West, 45, and Gage West, 20 of Brandon, Mississippi. Marx said the two were found deceased 15 feet underground by firefighters.
Officials said the duo possibly died by being exposed to odorless methane gas. Klem said autopsy results are pending.
Marx said, "The problem was they were in a confined space where the methane gas built up very quickly."
"Methane is very deadly when it gets to a certain level and it can overcome to you pretty instantly in some cases and we think that is what happened here" Marx said.
According to Marx the two have worked with the city numerous times in the past fixing 4 to 6 lift stations a month. "Very dangerous, but it is also routine" said Marx.
He added, "I am not sure of the circumstances of what happened, I am not going to second guess and say that, anyone is at fault."
"Obviously, something went wrong. Our hearts go heart to the family. They were a father and son, so that family was hit twice as hard.”
Marx asked the City of Petal Public Works Department to review safety measures and regulations. "We try to avoid our crew going into these lift stations, that is why we call the contractor because they specialize in that."
"We have to be very cautious in everything that we do and follow everything up to code" said Marx.
Marx said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is performing an investigation this week.
The father-son duo worked for Scoggins Pump Repair in Richland, MS.