A Western Berks Water Authority employee, identified as Cody Gipprich, 38 of Shillington, died Wednesday morning following an accident at the site of a water main access pit in Wyomissing.
Rescue crews were called to Cambridge Avenue, near Meadow Lane, at 8:33am for what was initially described as a “trench rescue”, with a person reported to be trapped under water.
Authorities say a crew of two from the Western Berks Water Authority were working in an underground concrete access chamber, repairing a meter attached to an 8 inch pipe. The access chamber, located near the roadway, ties in with the adjacent 36 inch water main that runs under Cambridge Avenue.
Although the cause is still under investigation, authorities on-scene say it was likely a failure in one of the pipes that leads into the 8 foot deep chamber, causing it to rapidly fill with water. The water pressure was estimated to be around 140 PSI.
Police say the initial rescue attempts were difficult, as a high volume of water was flowing upwards from the pit. Recovery operations lasted for several hours as crews waited for the water to be shut off.
Many residents in the County lost water pressure or experienced low water pressure for several hours.
Western Berks Water Authority is reporting that much of their system has been affected, and that although repairs are in progress, they do not have a definitive time when service will be restored.
Visit the WBWA website for updated notifications:wbwa.org
On their website, Western Berks Water Authority states they plan to issue a Boil Water Advisory system wide, which would cover Shillington, West Reading, Wyomissing, and Bern Township, and says individual municipalities have been notified and are in the process of activating or emergency supplies with the City of Reading.
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