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Billerica man identified as worker killed in fatal construction accident in Newton

First responders on the scene of a construction accident Thursday in Newton, where a concrete wall fell on a worker at the site of a home expansion project on Winchester Street.
First responders on the scene of a construction accident Thursday in Newton, where a concrete wall fell on a worker at the site of a home expansion project on Winchester Street.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

A Billerica man was identified by officials as the worker killed when a concrete wall fell on him Thursday while he was working at a Newton house undergoing renovation and expansion.

Russell J. Harron, 55, who was pronounced dead at the scene on Winchester Street, was identified Friday as the victim of the on-the-job fatality by Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by Ryan, and by State Police and Newton police along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Harron was working for M. DiStasio Excavation Contractors of North Reading, but it was not known if the company was responsible for building the foundation of what was to be a two-story expansion in the rear of the single-family home.

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Michael DiStasio, the company’s president, said Friday that Harron “was a hard-working and diligent employee.”

“Our hearts are broken,” DiStasio said in a statement. “Russell’s family has our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences on this unbearable loss. We are cooperating fully with the authorities in this investigation.”

Newton Fire Chief Gino Lucchetti told reporters on Thursday that the department got a 911 call around 7:58 a.m. and responded to the home on Winchester Street, where work was underway in the rear of the property.

Harron was underneath a concrete wall in the backyard, the chief said, and it was not initially clear whether he had survived, so the firefighters “went into rescue mode,” hoping to save his life.

“We started our rescue operations and into our rescue operations we realized at a certain time that the person under the wall was not viable, and it turned into a recovery operation,” Lucchetti said.

A neighbor, Eric Guo, said his security camera captured video footage of a man rushing out from the backyard, grabbing a shovel from the DiSisto pickup truck parked in front of the house, and then returning to the backyard with the shovel in his hand.

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Guo said he couldn’t see what happened in his neighbor’s backyard and he was sorry to learn that a man had died.

“I’m so sad to hear that,” he said. “I know that everybody rushed to come and rescue the contractor.”

According to city records, the single-family home was undergoing major renovations, including adding an attached two-story addition to the rear and an attached garage with a deck, and creating a first-floor master suite.

Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this story.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.