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Tucson man killed in wash collapse

Rikki Mitchell, Simone Del Rosario

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Tucson man killed in wash collapse

CREATED Oct. 9, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct. 10, 2013

ST. DAVID, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A 56-year-old Tucson man died Wednesday after he was crushed by four feet of rocks and dirt.

Carol Capas with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office tells KGUN9 William Lawrence and a 70-year-old woman were rock hunting off of Apache Powder Road and Highway 80.

Next to the collapse, a pile of minerals lie on the ground. 

Lawrence's companion was several feet away when she heard a noise. She rounded the bend and saw that the rock wall had given way, crashing on top of her friend. 

Capas says he was buried under four feet of dirt and rocks. The largest boulder is the size of an SUV.

Rock expert Rick Reyes doesn't recommend rock hounding in washes because the soil is unstable. Still, in his four decades of experience, he said it's never come to this.

"We've never actually heard of anyone get hurt, let alone killed," Reyes said. 

The woman he was with was able to flag down help from the roadway miles away. It took crews four hours to dig him out.

"They just had to start digging holes to see if they could find a shirt or a pantleg to see where he was at," Benson Fire Chief Keith Spangler said. 

Finally, search crews had to use a backhoe to dig him out. 

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