Remembering Tony Rice: Eutaw worker dies in road collapse

A black wreath hangs on the door of Eutaw City Hall, and the community around it is grieving after a city employee died and two others were injured while working Tuesday night.

Eutaw worker Tony Rice and two co-workers were repairing a water line when one of the workers hit a sewer line on accident, causing the trench to collapse.

First responders said recovery efforts took hours, and Rice’s body was finally recovered around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday.

His loss is devastating for those who knew him, and the city lost a star employee, said Eutaw Water Manager Corey Martin.

“Tony was one of the best people you could ever ask to work for,” Martin said. “He always had a smile and good positive energy about him and he was always willing to help you our when you needed it.”

First responders outside Greene County rushed to the scene with their equipment and specialists, including Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue.

“It was very tough,” said TFR Chief Randy Smith. “When we got down there, there were probably 200-plus people on the scene. (Rice’s) entire family was there. His crew was there, who had been working with him and saw this incident occur. They were all shell-shocked and just wanting to do something.”

While WVUA 23 was at the scene of the tragedy Wednesday, several people from around Greene County stopped by the site so they could pay their respects.

“If this was a close relative of mine, that’s what I thought about, you know,” said Greene County resident Clarence Outland. “I have a farm and I am by myself a lot. I sometimes get in situations I just have to come to my senses and say this is too risky to continue with and I stop. So it is just heart touching.”

Corey Martin said Rice died helping his community, which is a reminder of the kind of man he was.

“I worked with him a lot with FEMA stuff and tornado damage pickup,” Martin said. “He has worked seven days a week, 12-hour days getting this storm damage picked up and he never gives up. He was always positive even after 12 hours. That is the thing I will always remember about Tony. You ask him to do something and he will never give up.”

Rice’s funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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