Updated 06/30/2009 09:06 AM
Three Workers Die In Queens Sewage Hole
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A Brooklyn man and his son were among three workers killed Monday when they became trapped in a Queens sewage hole that was filled with toxic gas.
It happened on Douglas Avenue in Jamaica at around 2:30 p.m.
According to fire officials, Shlomo Dahan, 49, and his son Harel Dahan, 23, were subcontractors pumping three to four feet of water out of the hole, which was about 18-feet deep, when the younger Dahan fell into the well.
The elder Dahan retrieved a ladder and descended into the hole in an effort to rescue his son. Rene Francisco Rivas, 52, who worked at the recycling plant on site, also descended into the well to help.
Firefighters were able to pull out the men, but they had been overcome by hydrogen sulfide.
Fire officials say the level of the colorless and odorless gas in the hole was twice the lethal amount.
"It's toxic. At 50 parts per million, it's lethal in 10 minutes," explained Queens Borough Commander John Sudnik.
Rivas, who is survived by a wife and son, was described as a worker who always put safety first.
"He was all about his safety, always had on a vest and hard hat," said co-worker Charles Hunt.
"He gave his life up for somebody else, that is love," said Rivas's neighbor Peter Ferrier.
Late Monday, a crowd gathered by the Dahans' Bergen Beach home to mourn the loss.
"Heartbroken, can't do anything, just heartbroken. It's very hard, very hard," said family friend Natanel Zabaria. "We were suppose to meet this afternoon, I'm just in shock."
One firefighter was taken to the hospital Monday for evaluation, but he was expected to recover.
The incident is still under investigation.