PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The wife of a plumber who was killed when a trench he was working in collapsed is speaking out.
The incident occurred in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane neighborhood Thursday around 11:15 a.m.
Officials say Anthony Smith and two other men were working on a sewer line underground near the 100 block of West Walnut Park Drive when the trench they were working in collapsed.
The collapse left Smith trapped under dirt and concrete inside the trench. Smith's two co-workers were able to scramble out of the rubble and attempted to save him, but were unsuccessful.
"They was digging to get his body out they heard him tapping so every time he kept tapping, he knew they were digging," said Smith's cousin and co-worker Kevin Blake.
Multiple rescue units arrived and started their tactical rescue operation. They used a vacuum to remove the debris.
"That trench had re-filled with dirt already by the time we got here, so we started a very extensive rescue operation," Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.
According to Deputy Fire Commissioner Gary Loesch, heavy rainfall lead to moisture in the dirt. Once the collapse started, Smith was effectively caught and thrown down 15 feet.
He was found dead nine hours later.
The victim's wife, Nancy Smith, spoke exclusively with FOX 29 after the death of her husband. Smith said that the workers who were with Anthony had information that may have helped rescuers save his life.
"This is where he fell. You guys are digging in the wrong area," Nancy Smith recalled telling rescuers, "They dug for five hours. Five hours. And after they finally decided to listen, they found my husband in five minutes."
Rescue officials called the incident 'unfortunate' and 'tragic.'
Anthony Smith is survived by his wife and two young children. Smith was also a veteran and served in Afghanistan.
The family has set up a GoFundMe for financial relief in the wake of Smith's death. Those interested in donating can do so here.