The family of a 27-year-old plumber, who died when the trench he was working in caved-in in Buffalo Grove, are mourning his loss and say he “loved and cared deeply for everyone.”
Nikodem Zaremba, 27, of Elmwood Park, died around 7:20 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Arlington Heights resident Klaudia Potapa said Zaremba was a “hardworking, loving, and kind soul.”
“He loved and cared deeply for everyone around him whether it was his family, friends, or co-workers. Family was the utmost importance to him, they were his primary motivation in all of his endeavors,” Potapa said.
“To Nikuś friends he was the fun-loving, adventurous goofball who always had your back. To his parents he was their first born son. To his brothers he was the oldest, a strong role model, and forever friend,” she added.
Zaremba’s fiance remembered him as her “everything, best friend, soulmate, and future husband.”
The family said they are shocked by the loss and were not prepared for it.
A GoFundMe account has already raised over $15,000 to help with funeral expenses, living expenses and other necessities.
Zaremba became trapped in a hole in the front yard of a residence in the 1000 block of Aspen Drive in Buffalo Grove around 5:30 p.m. Monday.
It was reported that Zaremba was buried in the hole and not breathing.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) spokesman Scott Allen told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that an excavation was being performed at the time.
A company, Rooter Solutions, Inc., was contracted to perform sewer repair work at the residence.
The village confirmed they issued a sewer repair permit to Rooter Solutions for the property on November 29.
Allen said the owner of the company and two employees, one of which was Zaremba, were working at the site of the excavation, which was approximately 13 feet long by nine feet wide and eight feet deep.
There appeared to be no cave-in protection in the excavation while they were performing the work, Allen said.
Firefighters arrived and confirmed Zaremba was trapped in the hole and the alarm was upgraded to bring an expanded technical rescue response to the scene.
A total of 17 fire departments and 62 rescue personnel responded to the incident.
Technical rescue specialists “worked feverishly” to uncover and remove the man from the collapse, village officials said.
Zaremba was removed at 6:35 p.m. and transported by ambulance to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights where he later died.
State records show Zaremba was an apprentice plumber.
Allen said Rooter Solutions, Inc. was legally created in August 2022 and has no OSHA history.
OSHA has opened a formal investigation and further information will not be released until the investigation is complete, which could take up to six months.
“On behalf of the Fire Department and the entire Village of Buffalo Grove, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Zarembra,” Buffalo Grove Fire Chief Mike Baker said.
“I also wish to thank the 17 area departments that provided mutual aid in this technical rescue effort,” Baker added.