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      Family, friends remember Birmingham man who died while doing plumbing work underground; OSHA investigating

      LaDonte McCruter

      BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- LaDonte McCruter was digging a hole on 24th Street SW near Mayfield Avenue just before the dirt caved in around him, trapping him and eventually causing his death.

      "When I heard he had that job, I was like, this is something new to him. This is the first job I had know him to have."

      Shawanda Gray knew the 31-year-old McCruter, who had been her neighbor for the last few years.

      "He was a good friend," Gray said. "He never bothered anyone. He always tried to help people"

      Emergency crews spent several hours trying to rescue McCruter, but there was too much dirt to move and too little time.

      "I was just hurt. I wondered what happened and how it happened."

      No one has claimed hiring McCruter for the job. Workers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

      "I know he used to always do plumbing work and stuff. He would love to go down and work on plumbing and stuff like that.."

      Orlando Johnson considered the victim family.

      "It hurt me. Because Thursday or Friday, I saw him in the store. I work in the store. He came in the store and said cousin, he always called me uncle. I about to go out there an make me some money."

      McCruter's family and friends are collecting donations to help pay for a funeral. Jars are located in a few stores near his old home.

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