SMITHTOWN, N.Y. – A teenage worker taking out the garbage at a doughnut shop Sunday night fell into a sewage pit and died, police said.
Amiri Zeqiri, 17, slipped into an open cesspool behind a Dunkin' Donuts in Smithtown, about 40 miles east of New York City, police said. There usually was a manhole cover over the cesspool, a hole in the ground that collects waste from toilets and sinks, they said.
The teen's younger cousin, who was inside the doughnut shop, realized something was wrong when he didn't return and went to look for him. The cousin found Zeqiri in about 8 feet of water and ran to a nearby store for help, but when he returned the teen was no longer visible, police said.
Officers pulled the teen from the cesspool and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Authorities were investigating how the cesspool was uncovered and were awaiting the results of an autopsy.
Andrew Mastrangelo, a spokesman for Dunkin' Donuts' parent company, Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands Inc., said the company and franchisee Jesse Walia, were saddened to learn of the death.
"This tragedy impacts all of us at Dunkin' Donuts, especially those who had the pleasure to work with him on a daily basis," Mastrangelo said. He said Walia declined to comment.
It's not the first time someone has died in a Long Island cesspool — typically a large hole in the ground lined with rocks to filter the sewage before it's absorbed into the earth and usually covered with a lid.
In June 2007, a landscaper was killed after driving a lawnmower into one at a Deer Park home. In July 2006, a worried woman who went to check on her 76-year-old aunt found her buried in a 10-foot-deep cesspool in the front yard of her Huntington home.
And in September 2001, a Huntington man practicing archery in his backyard with his children died when an 18-foot-deep cesspool caved in and swallowed him.