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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.