As Ken Polite looks on to his family-owned sand and gravel pit, he wonders what, if anything, he could have done differently, “it’s a tragic, tragic accident.”

On Monday, at the Campbell Pit operated by Steve Polite Sand & Gravel on McCully Road just north of Prescott, a crane making its way to a pond to dredge sand, tipped into the water, after the bank gave way.

“It happened so quick, I took my eyes off him for a minute,” says Polite, “I just heard a big crash, and I turned and saw the bottom of the machine. I knew it was bad.”

Polite rushed to help the 77-year old crane operator, who was trapped inside, but he said it was too dangerous, the ground was still unstable.

“I called help and three more guys came from the shop. We smashed the windows, we located his body and we fished him out of the water.”

Polite says they desperately performed CPR until emergency crews arrived, “we tried the best we could,” says Polite. The senior was pronounced dead at hospital.

Ministry of Labour Inspectors and an Engineer are now on site investigating the incident, trying to figure out why the bank gave way, and if the wet weather played a role.

The crane operator, a husband, father and grandfather is from Lakefield Ontario near Peterborough.  His family asked his name not be released, but told CTV their father loved his job so much he always said he would do it until the day he died.

“He loved his job, he did, he lived for this,” says Polite, “I was talking to him just an hour before it happened and he was smiling. He was happy.  He was excited to go digging that’s all he wanted to do was just dredge some sand.”

 “I would have done anything to save him,” added Polite, “he’s just a great man and he’s going to be missed. I’m going to miss talking to him every morning, I’m going to miss helping him out, and I’m going to miss having him around.”