Devastated friends and family of a dad who died while working on a new-build estate say he fell into an open manhole at the construction site.
Father-of-two David ‘Ogga’ Archer suffered fatal injuries as a result of the incident in Manston, near Ramsgate, last week.
The loss of the 36-year-old from Deal, who had “the biggest heart of gold”, has left everyone who knew him distraught.
KentOnline spoke to some of those closest to Mr Archer at his brother-in-law Aaron Hardy’s house yesterday.
They said that while working at Barratt David Wilson Kent’s Spitfire Green development at 10.30pm last Tuesday, the specialist labourer fell through an open manhole cover.
Police and ambulance crews were called to the site, off New Haine Road, but despite the efforts of paramedics, tragically he was declared dead at the scene.
There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is carrying out an investigation into the incident while reports are prepared for the coroner.
Friend Craige Josh was working with him at the time of the tragedy, having met him through work several years ago.
Speaking to KentOnline yesterday, he said: “When I first started, I was sat in the canteen on my own and he came over and made sure I wasn’t alone. He bought me breakfast – actually, he bought me breakfast a few days in a row.
“He made me feel so welcome, and from that first moment I felt like I had known him forever.
“That was the way he was – he had the biggest heart of gold. Next thing you know we’re round his house playing pool and I’m spending almost every day with him.
“He would spend his last £10 on a piece of barbecue meat to make sure his friends were all fed – that’s the kind of guy he was.”
As well as being passionate about caring and catering for those around him – according to his friends, he was a fantastic cook – Mr Archer was also a keen gardener.
“He loved doing everything with his hands – he started an allotment to grow his own fruit and veg,” said his friend of 25 years Robbie Norris.
“He was by far the youngest one there, and I remember all of the older people were jealous of his allotment. He came second in a competition they ran but I reckon they would have given it to him next year!
“The fact is, though, that he did it for his children. They would be with him picking that fruit and veg, then he would come home and cook it for them, and for all of us.
“We’ve known him since we were 11. My mum met him first and told me about him.
“The second we met, barely a week went by where we didn’t hang out.”
After moving to Deal as a child, Mr Archer attended Castle Community College – now called the Goodwin Academy.
While at school, he met his future wife Rachel, becoming official after about two years of “courting”.
The couple had two children together – Jack, nine, and Poppy, who turned five a week before Mr Archer’s sudden death.
A fundraising page set up for his family reveals how on that tragic evening, as he left the family home, he “hugged his babies” and told them he loved them.
It adds: “Jack and Poppy said ‘see ya later Dad, love youuuu’, Rachel told him she loved him and as he always would say ‘love you babe’.
“Ogga never came home.”
The family had been to Butlins’ to celebrate Poppy’s birthday – alongside Mr Norris, Mr Josh, and another pal of more than two decades, Kaine Orchard, with all of their families.
Mr Orchard said: “There aren’t even words to express the size of the hole that has been left. He is one of those blokes that you can genuinely say was one in a million. You hear that all the time but he was absolutely irreplaceable.
“That’s how much he meant to everybody. That’s how much he meant to his family, to everybody. He was the best, he simply was the best. One of our own has gone now.”
Mr Hardy added: “You guys had a really special bond as a group of friends.
“It is a bond that you don’t see very often with people, that genuine friendship.
“For me, there is too much to be said to put into words, but I will always remember the little things like how he called my parents Mum and Dad rather than their first names, and the family roasts we loved so much.”
Mr Orchard’s wife Jessica set up the online fundraiser in the wake of the tragedy, in order to provide for Rachel, Jack and Poppy.
On the GoFundMe page, she describes Mr Archer as “one of the loveliest, kindest and most caring men that you will ever meet”.
She writes: “Dave loved his family beyond belief, everything he was working towards was for his family. Everyone who knew Ogga would always praise him, he was spoken so highly of. He truly was one of a kind!
“He adored his friends, and showed us all nothing but pure love. He looked out for all our children as though they were his own. Everyone always wanted uncle Ogs at the party.
“He would go out of his way to help others, he always put the effort in! He would brighten up our days just by being there. His cheeky little smile and contagious laugh, his silly little one-liner jokes that would have everyone belly laughing.”
Despite an original goal of £5,000, the fundraiser stood at more than £30,000 from more than 800 donations as of yesterday afternoon (Monday, November 20).
If you would like to donate, click here.
An HSE spokesperson confirmed that officers were liaising with police on the incident at the construction site.
A spokesperson for Barratt David Wilson Kent said: “We are deeply saddened to confirm that an individual working at our development in Manston passed away on Tuesday.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and co-workers. We are supporting the teams on the site and relevant authorities as they investigate what happened.”
A police spokesman said: “Kent Police was called to a report that a man had suffered injuries at a site near New Haine Road, Ramsgate at 10.30pm on Tuesday, November 14.
“Emergency services attended and a man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner.”