Landscaper dies after fall into cesspool

June 12, 2007, 10:31 PM EDT

A Central Islip landscaper died Tuesday of his injuries after falling into a cesspool while cutting a Deer Park lawn and being crushed by the quarter-ton mower, police said.

Around noon, Sergio Reyes, 34, was mowing the backyard of a Commack Road home while another employee from PM Landscaping of Central Islip worked on the front yard, police said.

The other landscaper, whose name was not released, went to the backyard and discovered Reyes trapped in the block-lined cesspool, his head above the liquid, with his lawn mower pinning him to the wall, police said.

While using the mower, Reyes had clipped the lid of the cesspool, causing it to give way, police said. The lid was below the surface, covered with grass and dirt and not readily visible, they said.

They said the landscapers were using a Wright Stander, a lawn mower the operator stands on while using it.

Police did not say how heavy the mower was, but the Stander weighs anywhere from 600 to 765 pounds, according to a Huntington Station lawn mower retailer not connected with the incident.

The other landscaper called for help and held Reyes’ arms above the liquid in the eight-foot-deep cesspool, police said.

Reyes was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he died from his injuries, police said.

"It seems like a tragic accident," said Det. Sgt. Paul Dodorico of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad. While he said criminal charges were not likely to be filed, he added that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the accident.

The owner of PM Landscaping, Pedro Martinez, is Reyes’ cousin and rushed to the scene. “I was going crazy, trying to get him out,” said Martinez, 36, of Central Islip. "We tried to pull the machine out."

Bob LiPetri, son of the homeowner, Frank LiPetri, said the cesspool was built when his father bought the house in 1947. Bob LiPetri said he checks the cesspool to make sure the grass above is not caving in and the lid, made of concrete, is not deteriorating. “It was in good shape,” he said. "There was nothing wrong with it."

After moving to America from Usulutan, El Salvador, about 14 years ago, Reyes had lived with his mother Anna Amaya in a modest home on Ferndale Blvd. family said.

He had a young daughter, Katherine, who lived in a different home with Reyes’ wife Denise, from whom he is separated.

Reyes once had his own landscaping business and installed sprinklers, but recently started working for Martinez.

"He was a hard worker, a good father, a good husband, a good son," said his cousin, Felipe Diaz, 61, of Brentwood.

**Last year, a woman died after falling into a cesspool near her Elwood home and two men in ****Huntington were rescued from a fall down a cesspool. **
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

Is there a lot of these up North?

Is a cesspool like a septic tank?

That was constructive! :roll:

If you really need an explanation, I removed the other because I think it was in the wrong place.

You are correct that is why I changed it.


Most of Suffolk county has septic systems.


A septic tank is a chamber through which all waste water from the home passes. The tank collects the water and allows the heavier solids to sink to the bottom forming a “sludge”. Lighter solids such as soap, grease and oil rises to the top and forms “scum”. Natural bacterial action works on the solids, helping to break them down.
The tank’s design keeps the solids from flowing out with the residual liquid, called “greywater”, into the cesspool drainage area where it leeches into the soil.
Cesspools (or leaching pools) are pits into which concrete, brick or cement block walls have been placed. Wastewater flows into the cesspool and drains or “percolates” into the soil through perforated walls.
Cesspools which serve only as “overflow” pits from septic tanks are much more efficient than the older systems because they receive much less solid material. However, where there is no septic tank to hold the solids, the cesspool will require much more maintenance. Over time, when the drainage area around the leaching pool becomes saturated, additional pools may have to be dug to handle the volume.

There are two basic components to a septic system

  1. The septic tank

  2. The leaching field (soil absorption area)
    Here is the how the septic system works:

  3. Waste flows from the home into the septic tank.

  4. Organic solids float to the top and inorganic solids sink to the bottom of the tank.

  5. Natural occurring bacteria in the septic tank converts the organic solids to liquid.

  6. The clear liquid in between the “solids” and “sludge” layers flows into the leaching field.

How does a septic system fail? SOLID BUILD-UP!
By not servicing and maintaining your system properly, solids build up within the septic system and flow into the leaching field. This clogs the leaching field and could permanently destroy the field.

As well, household cleaners like detergents, toilet cleaners, bleach, and disinfectants kill the natural bacteria in the septic tank.
Here is the how the cesspool system works:

  1. Waste flows from the home into the cesspool.
  2. Organic solids float to the top and inorganic solids sink to the bottom of the tank.
  3. Natural occurring bacteria in the cesspool converts the organic solids to liquid.
  4. The clear liquid flows out the sides of the tank and into the surrounding soil.

How does a cesspool system fail? SOLID BUILD-UP!
By not servicing and maintaining your system properly, solids build up within the tank and clog the pores of the cesspool walls. This will prevent liquid from escaping the tank into the surrounding soil. In addition, the presence of inorganic household substances in the tank, like toilet cleaners, bleach, and anti-bacterial soaps will also turn into solids, clog the cesspool walls, and cause a system overflow.