Second suit against Followell filed by collapse victim's wife

Ann Knef Jun. 26, 2008, 8:41am

Kathy Eickelman is suing Followell Construction Co. over the death of her husband who was crushed in a ditch while trying to save a co-worker from the same fate on March 10.

According to a complaint filed June 17 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Walter Thomas Eickelman had attempted to rescue Ron Yankey from a collapsing ditch that had been dug for the purpose of laying a sewer line.

Eickelman claims in her suit that the ditch was neither shored nor secured in accordance with industry standards. The suit claims that wet conditions caused by rain made the ground too wet to safely dig.

She is represented by Howerton, Dorris & Stone of Marion.

"On March 10, 2008, at around 3:00 p.m. and while working in and around said ditch Ron Yankey descended into the ditch for the purpose of working on the laser (for alignment).

"At that time and place, because of the depth of the ditch, the lack of proper shoring and weather conditions, said ditch began to collapse while Ron Yankey was in the ditch.

"Before Walter Thomas Eickelman could assist Ron Yankey out of the collapsing ditch and while attempting to rescue Ron Yankey, the ditch fully collapsed, crushing and burying the two men."

Walter Thomas Eickelman was employed by Midwest Petroleum and Excavating. Followell Construction Co. was the project's general contractor.

The village of Millstadt is named as a respondent in discovery and "likely to have information about said cause including who may or should be named as additional defendants," the complaint states.

The suit also claims Followell is negligent for failing to use safety cages to descend the 10-foot ditch

Mendy Yankey, the widow of Ron Yankey, also filed suit April 24 against Followell Construction Co. in St. Clair County.

Yankey worked as a plumber for Midwest Petroleum and Excavating, a subcontractor for Followell Construction, which had a contract with the village of Millstadt to make improvements to its sewer plant.

Yankey is represented by William P. Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville.

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