The Death Of Eric Haider, Dickinson, North Dakota

The following is a serious, ongoing story, that is not over.

A brief history:

On May 24, 2012, thirty year old Eric Haider went missing from a construction site in Dickinson, North Dakota.  That evening, when Eric did not return home, his fiancee and his mother began trying to contact everyone they could think of, to try to locate Eric.  They filed a missing person report with the police.

After several days, the police and an excavator operator, attempted to dig up the recently backfilled trench on the construction site where Eric had been working.  A water line was hit during the dig, and that ended the digging operation.

Eric remained missing for the remainder of 2012, 2013, 2014.  In early 2015, the parents of Eric Haider hired a private investigator, Discovery Investigations, to search for Eric.  In May of 2015, Discovery Investigations found the body of Eric Haider, buried in the trench on the construction site where he had been working.

The forensic investigators said that the body of Eric Haider was found, crouching in an upright position, beside the water line his work crew had been installing.  The coroner determined that Eric was alive when he was buried.

The Dickinson police detective, and the state attorney, said that Eric’s death was an accident, no criminal charges would be pursued, and that the case was closed.

Eric’s parents were upset that the initial search for Eric did not find him, it was a private investigator that they hired several years later that found his body, buried right where he had been working.  Eric’s parents were upset that the police investigation did not determine how Eric was buried alive, and that the case was closed.

Eric’s parents, family, and friends have expressed frustration that the police investigation did not continue, and that the case was closed.  Looking back at what happened following the disappearance of Eric, many things indicated that it was not an accidental death.  One of the the most disturbing things, was that Eric’s coworkers left the job site that day, not knowing where Eric was, or having made much of an effort to find him, despite the fact that he rode with them to work that morning, and Eric had left some clothing and his lunch box in their vehicle.

The following is why I believe Eric’s death was not an accident:

I have worked in excavation and underground utilities as a foreman, superintendent, project manager, and inspector.

  1. When we started work in the morning, or when we returned from lunch, we always looked in the trench before backfill.  We did not want any bucket, lunch box, shovel, shopping cart, debris, or kid to be down in the trench when we backfilled.  Everybody always looked in the trench, it was instinctive, it was habitual.
  2. An operator on a piece of equipment can see in the trench.  If he has a low loader bucket, he can see over it.  If he has a high loader bucket, he can see under it.  The operator can see what he is filling in, and how much fill is going where.
  3. Especially when filling a trench with a water line, you don’t just fill the trench completely full.  You put in a couple feet of dirt, have the laborers shovel the dirt under and around the pipe, then you run a compactor/tamper to compact the fill.  If you are doing a sloppy job, you might fill the trench 3′ full, then have the laborers shovel the dirt out, then run a compactor/tamper over it.  But there are laborers standing by, shoveling the dirt out, running a compactor, and they would have seen a body crouching upright beside the water line.
  4. Whether it’s a three man crew, or a ten man crew, when someone is not present for even twenty minutes, everybody notices, and people start to gripe that somebody is supposed to be there doing their job, and they’re not there.  It only takes about twenty minutes before workers try to find out why somebody isn’t where they should be.  Within about one hour, everybody would have been pissed off and upset that they could not find a coworker that was supposed to be there.
  5. When a worker rides to work with other workers, they just don’t leave the work site at the end of the day without him.  The workers want to know what happened to him, where is he, did he leave with somebody else, did he get sick, who was the last person who saw him, go and look everywhere and see if anybody can find him, does anybody know what happened to him?

The fact that all of Eric’s coworkers just got in their vehicles and left the job site without Eric, without knowing what happened to him, without knowing where he went, does not make any sense.  It also does not make much sense that a water line could be backfilled with Eric crouching upright beside it, without any laborers or the equipment operator seeing him.

I don’t know why the police and the state attorney are not aware of the five issues that I just wrote up above.  I think that it would have been appropriate for the entire crew to have been charged with manslaughter, their actions resulted in the death of Eric Haider.  I think that it was more than manslaughter, the manslaughter charge against the entire crew I think would have brought about confessions of knowledge about what really happened that day.


As of September 2016, this post has been viewed by 48,000 people, from about thirty different countries.  So many people are sorry about what happened to Eric Haider, and angry that almost nothing has been done about it.

I had believed that Greta Van Susteren with Fox News would have been willing to investigate what happened, just like she did in the case of Natalie Holloway who disappeared in Aruba.  I gave out the contact information for Greta Van Susteren, and urged readers to call her, and e-mail her.  No response.

Greta did not want to investigate, OSHA did not want to investigate, not anybody wanted to investigate.  My personal belief now, is that people don’t get very upset or concerned about workers getting killed in North Dakota.  This should change.  Every worker death in North Dakota should be a big deal, be thoroughly and completely investigated, the specific causes determined.  Declaring an “accident” is not a determination of what happened, who did what, and who is responsible.

27 thoughts on “The Death Of Eric Haider, Dickinson, North Dakota

  1. There is a rally protesting Eric’s case being closed today 4-15-16, at the federal building Bismarck ND on 3 street. Starts at 3:30pm


    1. I am sorry that I did not hear about the protest until later that night.

      I still don’t know why OSHA has not conducted an investigation of a death at a work site, especially after the police declared it an “accident”. I don’t understand how OSHA can decline to investigate. I want to help to to make sure that “case closed, accident”, is not the end of the investigation. Burying a coworker alive and leaving the jobsite is not an “accident”.


  2. His family should be reimbursed by the city for the costs to hire a private investigator. After all, he/she was doing what the city PD should have done in the first place.


    1. You are so right! The ball was dropped BIG TIME!! If this is so-called an accidental work “accident” OSHA, the state n the company he worked for should of done more investigating!! To me, this sounds very suspicious!! My heart hurts for Eric n his family! Something more MUST be done to find out the WHOLE TRUTH!!


    1. Probably in order to cooperate with the Dickinson Police and others involved in the investigation, the family has not made comments about a lawsuit.

      Besides the determination of criminal liability, which that hasn’t even been fully completed, eventually there will probably be one or more civil liability lawsuits. Because of everything that happened, and the way that it happened, there are several parties involved that are probably very scared about the eventual determination of civil liability. There are several parties involved that will have to explain what they did, and they know that this is going to not turn out well for them.


  3. I find it a major injustice that more of an investigation was not undertaken in this case!!! Why was it not done?


    1. One reason why a more thorough investigation may not have been done, was because both the police investigator and the prosecuting attorney have never worked construction, they believe that they know everything, so they didn’t think it was necessary to ask underground utility foremen or superintendents about this situation. If they had asked an experienced foreman or superintendent, they would have said, “Very unlikely it was an accident. Everybody kind of knows where everybody is, everybody looks out for each other. Plus, a trench doesn’t get filled to the top right away, there are people standing around with shovels, people waiting to get in there with compactors. But, I have seen where people don’t get along on a jobsite, and sometimes try to get another worker hurt, I have seen that.”

      There will probably be a civil lawsuit against the contractor for negligence, lack of proper safety, failing to act in an emergency. Possibly civil lawsuits against the foremen, equipment operator, and other workers. Maybe even a lawsuit against the City of Dickinson Police. All of these people mentioned here just now already know this. The wait for their eventual trial is hanging over their head every day. No matter how well they are doing in life now, each of these individuals is going to lose everything they own in paying for their legal representation. This is even before the judgment against them. They can declare bankruptcy, but only a small amount of equity in their home is protected, and due to the change in bankruptcy laws, debts are not completely wiped out. They will be paying for this for the rest of their lives.


  4. I completely agree that Cofell Plumbing knows more about what happened to Eric and I am discouraged with the lack of public support in finding out the truth. This family deserves to know what happened. I will never use Cofell’s for services I may need and I encourage everyone else to do the same; they need to come forward with the truth about Eric Haider.


  5. How can someone call it a accident? Why would Eric knowingly sit there and let someone bury him alive, well no one in their right mind would.. He was murdered and they know he was, but the worst part for everyone is knowing he was probably scared and crying for this not to happen. So he deserves justice and so does his family, try thinking Eric was your family member I bet everything would be done.. A lowlife monster killed him and the justice system is allowing for them to get away!!!


    1. This post about the death of Eric Haider, has been viewed by more than 36,000 people, and in about thirty different countries.

      All 36,000 people are sorry about what happened to Eric Haider. They are angry about it.

      If the governor in North Dakota and others thought that this was going to go away, the exact opposite is happening, it is being talked about more and more.

      This story deserves national attention, it shows a failure of OSHA to respond like it is supposed to.

      The best person to bring this story to the world, is Greta Van Susteren, because she does not let things go and she does not give up. Greta Van Susteren did story after story on the disappearance of Natalie Holloway in Aruba, for years afterwards.

      Please everyone, try to contact Greta Van Susteren and her producers at Fox News. Everyone keep trying, and I am sure she will respond. All the workers in North Dakota really need this, their lives are important, their lives do matter. Contact her at


    1. I double checked, yes the correct e-mail address for Greta Van Susteren is

      However, if anyone wishes they can contact Greta on Twitter @greta

      You can telephone Fox News at the now corrected phone number 1-888-369-4762, listen to the prompts, and press the appropriate number for the person/department.


  6. This is MURDER! ! Somebody knows something! I am so sorry for the family and friends! Someone is GUILTY!!


  7. If Fox news doesn’t follow up, 20/20 might investigate it.
    This is a horrible thing! And covering it up is evil.


  8. Reblogged this on larinnachandler and commented:
    The points he makes in this post are absolutely on the spot! There are far too many questions unanswered…and the should be! This article, in a way, reminds me of the Avery case…there are just too many things that simply don’t add up.
    This is a good read and for a damn good reason.


  9. I’m sure the statute of limitations have ran out on most charges. But the foreman of the crew is ultimently the person who bears the responsibility of the safety of each individual of his crew who he is tasked with overseeing. Horrible freak accidents happen all the time, maybe trench collapsed on him and nobody was aware? Company policies should dictate a buddy system while working in dangerous conditions. I’m sure this has had a severe impact on the employees and their families as well as the family of Eric. I’m sure the DPD/states attorney relied on physical evidence or the lack thereof in their decision making. The burden of proof in a court of law is a major key issue to prove that one person or others did this. Leads me to believe this was a tragic accident that should lead to policy changes in how construction workers are looked after on a job site. Each one of these people have accepted the reality of the dangers of underground work when they accepted a job in this environment . But a person in a position of authority on the crew should have been more aware when an employee is more missing. Job sites a a very busy place. equipment operators have a specific job and are under the gun by their employer to turn profits. But to say everybody at this company is caught up in a conspiracy to hide the truth does not seem right. Sad for all parties involved but hope the family can move on and find happiness and a good life that was lived.


    1. I very nearly didn’t allow your comment to be posted. From your comment, it appears that you might be one of the people involved, because you give several reasons/excuses that you think would/should excuse guilt/liability. However, everyone else who reads what happened, knows there is more to this than a mere accident because of the way that no one looked for Eric and got in their vehicles and left. In other words, it looks like nobody went looking for Eric because they knew exactly where he was, because they knew he was buried right there in the trench.

      The police investigator never should have let up with the questioning of every individual worker,”Why did nobody look for Eric? He rode with you to work, why did you leave without him? Why did nobody look for Eric? Did you know he had been buried in the trench? If you went missing, would your coworkers have left without looking for you? Why did you leave without Eric?”

      If the former mayor of Dickinson, Dennis Johnson, owned a construction company instead of cabinet company, if Dennis Johnson went missing from a construction job site, the workers would have been questioned again, and again, and again. If Dennis Johnson’s body was found buried upright beside a waterline, still alive when buried, it would have been called murder, and every worker on that job site would have been questioned and treated like a suspect in the murder of Dennis Johnson.

      In your comments when you wrote things like the workers knew the reality of the dangers on a job site, a job site is a busy place, equipment operator is under pressure to work fast, things like this are typically said by someone who wants to lessen the guilt of the people involved. You hear this type of talk when someone from the Veterans Administration tries to explain why veterans who made an appointment for treatment died months later without seeing a doctor. You later find out that the reason they didn’t see a doctor was because their patient treatment application was deliberately placed in a drawer and left there, and never entered into computer system, due to “pressure” to make auditors believe all patients were being seen in a timely manner. “Pressure”, “Hurry”, “Dangerous Work Conditions” though they may exist, does not excuse/relieve/lessen the fact that Eric was buried alive, work was not stopped to look for him, everybody on jobsite got in vehicles and left without Eric. It looks deliberate.

      Also, no statute of limitations on murder.


  10. It is about time for me to write this. I believe that most of the workers that were on the job site in Dickinson the day that Eric went missing, know what happened to Eric, and why. From everything that happened, and the way that it happened, I believe that Eric’s death was not an accident.

    I don’t know if all of the workers were involved in something that needed to be covered up, or if some workers were involved in something that needed to be covered up, and the other workers were threatened, warned, and intimidated to keep quiet and not ever say anything.

    The workers that were not involved in any illegal activity, would probably like to come forward and tell what happened, they have probably been wanting to tell what happened for the past three years. The family of Eric Haider would probably understand if some coworkers were threatened, were afraid to speak, and waited so long to finally tell what happened.

    It would have been helpful if the Dickinson Police would have told each individual worker, that they could have immunity from prosecution for involvement in illegal activity, if they would just tell what happened to Eric. Also, if they were involved in the death of Eric Haider, their charges would be lessened for their cooperation.

    Even the people that were directly involved in Eric’s death, would probably like to confess what happened. They are probably sick of living with this every day, and are probably now wanting to talk.

    I think that if this story is continued to be talked about, and continued to be investigated, the workers that were on the job site that day will come forward. All of the workers on the job site are probably very burdened by what happened and what they know.


  11. I have worked utility construction all over the United States. In Texas, water lines are 2′ deep. Where in North Dakota, water lines range from 4 to 6 feet at least due to freezing. If memory serves me correctly. If someone is working in a trench at least 4′ deep. The walls need to be shored up or the trench has to be twice as wide with the walls at a 45 degree angle. And with us, the client would have a safety inspector on site to make sure this was being done. My theory is that death was caused by the company doing unsafe actions and tried to cover it up in order to keep from facing prosecution and being shut down. And the city is trying to cover their tracks for the city inspector for not being there or overlooking these unsafe acts.


  12. Oh wow the poster who found reasoning in a live burial on the construction job site and with the logic of it happens it’s a busy dangerous line of work blah blah blah and your perfect response to them, look at his key wordage he is obviously one of the guilty “under the gun” how else do you compel a person to get into a hole if it weren’t the threat of a weapon and death, maybe it was jealousy, Eric Haider was very handsome from what I can see in pictures. There’s always a jealous competitive person at any job, especially if you’re beautiful, and have what they don’t. But maybe that person or persons were also black souled enough to try to bring physical harm to their competition, I hope the family gets the answers they seek and I hope they bring them to justice then I hope the family sues everyone. It doing shit and win double digit millions, sounds so corrupt. The family should be reporting this corruption to higher levels than the LE and court and OSHA than in their area, sounds like the good old boys attitude.


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