Boulder Man Who Died In 10-Foot-Deep Trench Was Trying To Install Drain

Sublette County Sheriff K.C. Lehr said Gale Roberts, 63, of Boulder who asphyxiated in a 10-foot-deep trench cave-in on his own property.

Clair McFarland

June 13, 20232 min read

Sublette County sign 6 13 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Sublette County authorities have identified the man who died of asphyxiation in a trench collapse Friday as Gale Roberts, 63, of Boulder. 

Roberts and an acquaintance were trying that morning to install a French drain to divert water seeping from a nearby ditch into Roberts’ crawl space at his home, says a Tuesday statement by Sublette County Sheriff K.C. Lehr. 

When first responders arrived at the scene on Navajo Path in Boulder at about 10 a.m., they discovered a backhoe that had trenched a 25-foot-long ditch, between 8 and 10 feet deep. 

“A large slab of earth had come free from one of the trench edges and collapsed on a person who was in the ditch at the time, covering most of his body up to his head,” reads the statement, which later identifies Roberts as the man. 

First responders removed dirt and earth using the backhoe and shovels until they could reach in and check Roberts’ vitals. There was no pulse, and Roberts was not breathing, the statement says. 

Roberts was pronounced dead at the scene. 

“Our deepest condolences to Mo, Sydney and the Roberts’ family,” said Lehr in his statement. 

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter