06 Oct Jon Cartu Announced Autopsy results raise more questions than answers in constr…
IMLAY CITY — A 63-year-old Armada man could be facing felony charges in the wake of a Dryden man’s death Sept. 12 at a construction site in Imlay City.
Imlay City Police Dept. Chief Scott Pike said an autopsy report by Dr. Kanubhai Virani, Oakland County’s Chief Assistant Medical Examiner, revealed that Craig E. Wagner, Jr., 38 of Dryden Township was already dead when he fell into a trench at a condominium construction site.
Pike said there’s “no evidence it was intentional,” but he added the Armada man’s story didn’t match with the results of the autopsy report.
Virani’s autopsy report, Pike said, indicated Wagner died from massive head trauma when he was struck by an excavator operated by the Armada man.
Pike said, “It’s on the death certificate. The dirt, clay and whatever fell into the ditch couldn’t cause that kind of trauma. The only thing on the site that could is the excavator.”
He said the Armada man denied hitting Wagner with the excavator. Pike didn’t know why the trench collapsed after Wagner was struck by the excavator.
Pike said the two men had worked together for “a couple of years,” and there was no indication of bad blood between them.
The Armada man reported the incident, which took place just before 1 p.m. Sept. 12 on the 4000 block of South Almont Avenue. Imlay City Police Dept. Officers Joe DeLuca and Corey Martin were on scene within minutes and dug the man out of the trench by hand, with the help of the excavator operator, but the Lapeer County Medical Examiner’s Office declared Wagner dead at the scene.
Although police initially believed it to be a construction site accident, the subsequent autopsy report did not support that, Pike said.
He noted that MIOSHA opened its own investigation of the death, but that won’t be complete for several months and didn’t play into his decision to seek a warrant. Pike added blood samples have been sent to a Michigan State Police crime lab for analysis, but those results may take months to get back.
MIOSHA spokesperson Erica Quealy said this type of investigation may take several weeks or months to complete. She added, “The Imlay City Police Department investigation does not affect MIOSHA’s investigation.”
Imlay City Police filed an 18-plus page report Tuesday with the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office.
After reviewing the initial report along with attachments, photos and written witness statements, Prosecutor Michael Sharkey asked Imlay City Police to do some additional investigation and supplement its police report.
Sharkey gave no indication when he might make a final decision on the police’s warrant request.
“We certainly do expect charges,” said Pike.