Bodies recovered following trench collapse in Jarrell identified

The bodies of two men who were feared dead in a trench collapse in Jarrell have been recovered, according to local officials. 

On July 6, the identities of the two men were released. They were identified as Jimmy L. Alvarado, 20, and Jose Vargas Ramirez, 39. Both men were from Florence.

According to Chief McAdams of the Jarrell Fire Department, a trench collapsed in a construction area around 8:28 a.m. on Tuesday. The trench was reportedly being constructed for a sewer line. 

When first responders arrived, they learned two victims were buried under the collapse. The workers were reportedly more than 20 feet deep in a two-foot wide space.

First responders determined it was unsafe to attempt to rescue the men, according to Chief McAdams. 

"Upon examination of the area, crews determined it was unsafe to attempt the rescue without a higher level of tools and more manpower," said Chief Mark McAdams, Jarrell Fire Department and Williamson County ESD 5.

About two hours into their response, first responders switched to recovery efforts. It reportedly took 16 hours of using heavy machinery to make a safe pathway to the victims. 

The first victim was located around 4:10 a.m. and extricated around 6:18 a.m. The second victim was extricated around 7:24 a.m.

"The process was complicated due to the soil and the depth of the trench, which was over 20 feet where the victims were," Chief McAdams said during a press conference today. 

Officials have not released the identities of the victims at this time.  

The victims shared close ties with Jarrell, leaving the community in grief and total shock.

"We take this very, very deeply. These people had ties. There was a Jarrell High School graduate. These families used to live in Jarrell, they are now living in Florence," said Mayor Larry Bush, Jarrell.

"This certainly has been very heart-wrenching for our entire town and our district as well," said Toni Hicks, Jarrell ISD superintendent.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and OSHA are now investigating the incident to figure out why it happened in the first place. Officials did not say rain was the cause, but they are not ruling it out.

The Jarrell Fire Department was assisted by the Georgetown Fire Department, Temple Fire Department, Round Rock Fire Department, Austin Fire Department, Salado Fire Department, Williamson County Sheriff's Office, Williamson County EMS, as well as others.