Officials find no violations at Deep Rock Tunnel project after worker dies in June

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Indiana officials say they found no safety violations at the Deep Rock Tunnel project after a worked died on the job earlier this year

25-year-old William Isaac Simpson died June 13, seven miles from the entrance and construction headquarters of the Deep Rock Tunnel Connector project. We was working about 250 feet below ground, near the south side of downtown Indianapolis underneath West Street and Raymond Street.

The accident occurred about 3 a.m. Citizens Energy and Water says Simpson was with eight to ten other workers. The utility's spokesperson Sarah Holsapple isn't providing any details on what occurred.

"I can't describe anything that went on underground because that is part of the investigation," said Holsapple.

Eyewitness News has been inside the Deep Rock Tunnel before. It's like a small city. A massive boring machine cuts through bedrock with workers laboring 24 hours a day, five days a week.

A small train shuttles them and their equipment from the tunnel's entrance to the constantly moving work site.

Deep Rock is part of a 25-mile tunnel system. When finished in 2025, tunnels will move and store millions of gallons of raw sewage collected during rain storms, sewage that is now pouring in to the White River, Fall Creek and other streams.

An IOSHA investigation is underway. Indiana's Department of Labor says it has no record of any previous problems with contractor SKJV. Construction began about two years ago.

"We've had no other incidents issues on this site," Holsapple said. "We've had a great safety record on this site and our contractor has as well. So we are certainly very shaken by this loss."

Simpson was familiar with the work. He had been on the job for more than a year. The investigation into his death is expected to take months

Investigators will look at the person, the machinery and the environment. Did Simpson or a coworker make a mistake? Were they properly trained and supervised? Did equipment malfunction? Were there falling rocks? Those and others are among the questions waiting for answers.

Citizens says underground work on the tunnel has been halted and won't resume until Monday at the earliest.

Holsapple said earlier reports of a tunnel collapse were not true, saying the infrastructure is safe.

Citizens Energy Group released the following statement Friday morning:

"Tragically, there has been a death of a worker here today at our Deep Rock Tunnel Connector site. We are withholding the identity of the worker for pending notification of his family. The circumstances of the worker's death are still under investigation so we cannot speculate about a cause. We expect to have more details later today. Our hearts go out to the worker's family. Thank you for your patience as we gather the details of this incident."