RAYMOND — The 47-year-old man crushed by a 6,000-pound boulder Monday had been trying to remove the giant rock from his backyard for at least two months, police said.
“He was just doing it by hand — he had a hand tool,” Lt. Michael Labell said. “There was no heavy equipment or machinery there.”
Labell said the boulder rolled onto Paul Comeau Jr. as he was digging it out, pinning Comeau on the ground against the side of a small ditch. Comeau was not breathing when his wife found him after 7 p.m. Monday, Labell said.
Emergency responders were unable to resuscitate Comeau. Labell said a tow truck was called to lift off the boulder, which is 5 feet in diameter.
Labell said that while Comeau’s Roy Street home is in a residential area and the backyard is in the line of sight of some neighbors, there were apparently no witnesses.
Comeau’s death appeared to be “a freak accident,” Labell said.
Linda Finnigan lives across the street from the Comeau family.
“I had talked to him several times outside,” she said Tuesday. “They’re just nice people. He was a really nice guy.”
Finnigan said she once talked with Comeau about previous owners’ renovations to the Comeau home, but never about work in the yard. She said she only saw Comeau when he was out front, mowing the lawn or doing other tasks.
The family has three children, she said.
In November 2012, a 19-year-old man was killed in the front yard of his family’s new home in Lyndeborough as he marked a position for a 16-foot granite boulder that was part of the landscaping of the house on Baldwin Hill Road.
According to police, an excavator was holding the rock up, but the ground, soft from recent rain and snow, shifted and the boulder fell onto Benjamin Foisie, pinning him beneath it.
Labell advised homeowners to use an abundance of caution when doing potentially hazardous work on their property.
“If you’re going to do home improvement, make sure you have the right equipment and you’re thinking about safety,” he said.