Operator's Body Recovered at Sky Harbor

May 29, 2018

The Phoenix Fire department reports the body of Melvin Wayne Self was recovered last Thursday after he was thrown from a drill rig while working on the Sky Train guideway system at Sky Harbor International Airport Monday, May 21, 2018, in Phoenix.

Rescue and recovery crews worked for three days in hopes of finding the trapped worker who fell into a deep hole in unstable, sandy ground. "The ground is really unstable," Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Larry Subervi said Wednesday. "Every time you dig sand out, more sand continues to fall in, that's what we're dealing with because the ground is so loose and not compacted."

The recovery was made more difficult because the drill rig blocked access to the hole and required two cranes to remove before crews could begin removing the sand.

According to the page set up for Self, the operator was more worried about his coworkers' safety than his own and yelled to them to get out of the way when the ground began to give way. Self was  52.

Self's family released video Sunday to KPHO/KTVK-TV showing firefighters carrying the 52-year-old’s body after covering it with an American flag, saying Self’s family wanted to thank first responders for being respectful.