Man bonds out after allegedly dumping loads of dirt on supervisor, beating him with level

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — An argument between a construction worker and his supervisor turned violent at a work site in Volusia County, ending with one man in jail and the other seriously injured, deputies said.

The victim’s friends and family said they were disappointed to find out that the man charged with aggravated battery with bodily injury was no longer locked up. Erick Cox was released on bail Friday.

The confrontation started Wednesday morning between Cox, 32, and his boss, Perry Byrd, 57, at a construction site in the 100 block of North Charles R. Beall Boulevard, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Cox told deputies that he and Byrd traded barbs that morning, and at one point, he accidentally bumped a lever on a front-end loader, causing it to dump dirt on the supervisor’s legs.

Witness Glen Heckman, though, described a very different scene to investigators, a sheriff’s office report said.

Heckman said he saw Cox and Byrd arguing at about 7:15 a.m. and while operating the front-end loader, Cox purposefully dumped a load of dirt on Byrd, the report said.

Cox then backed up, scooped up more dirt, and again, dumped it on Byrd, Heckman told investigators.

"He didn't just dump the dirt, he dumped it and drove forward with it to make sure that dirt was covering him up," Heckman told Channel 9's Angela Jacobs Friday. "Then he backed right up there 5 foot from him and dug down another hole and got another bucket and pushed it over to finish it"

By the time it was done, Byrd was half buried under thousands of pounds of dirt, Heckman said.

While Byrd was pinned under the pile, Cox jumped down from the loader, picked up a 6-foot aluminum level and repeatedly hit the man in the head until he lost consciousness, Heckman told deputies.

“Heckman advised Cox was standing over Byrd cussing and laughing about the situation while Byrd was unconscious,” the report said.

Heckman called 911 and frantically asked the operator to send deputies to the construction site.

“Please hurry, somebody come out here, (Cox) just hit (Byrd) with a level,” Heckman told the 911 operator. “He’s about to kill him.”

After giving the operator a few more pieces of information, Heckman can be heard yelling to employees to help Byrd get out from under the dirt.

“Get it off him,” he yelled twice.

After that, Heckman’s side of the call went silent.

Employees were able to pull Byrd from under the pile of dirt and he was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital, deputies said.

Byrd’s wife told Channel 9’s Angela Jacobs that her husband was in and out of consciousness and doctors said he had a blood clot on his brain.

A doctor at CFRH told investigators that Byrd had “significant trauma to the head” that may require surgery and several days in the hospital, the sheriff’s office said.

A nurse later told investigators that Byrd’s injuries were more serious than previously thought and that he had a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain, deputies said.

Cox told Channel 9 that Byrd had threatened him.