Firefighters recall rescue of Michigan man buried alive in trenc - WNEM TV 5

Firefighters recall rescue of Michigan man buried alive in trench

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Source: CNN Source: CNN
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A worker who was trapped in a trench Tuesday at a Warren, Michigan construction site is expected to make a full recovery.

The worker was trapped in a hold 13 feet deep and buried alive. The 911 call shows the urgency of the situation. 

Dispatcher: What's going on?

Caller: A trench just collapsed with a guy in it.

Dispatcher: Do you guys have contact with this guy? Is he ok or you don't know?

Caller: No. We can't get to him yet. Hurry up.

Within four minutes of the 911 call, Warren firefighters were on the scene near Van Dyke and 13 Mile Road.

Fifteen firefighters with their hearts racing worked to save the man's life.

"When we rolled up the guy was completely buried. The construction guys didn't know where he was - thought he was in one spot, then his hand popped up,” Warren Fire Captain Ron Laszczak said.

The man’s hand showed the firefighters where to dig and, within moments, they had uncovered his head.

We're told the 37-year-old had been working on a sewer line when the trench gave way. He was buried in Michigan clay, a heavy substance that gave him no room to move.

"The guy is like submerged in water. We were able to get an IV started on him, we were able to push him drugs to ease some of the pain. We asked him his pain on a scale of 1 to 10, he said 20. We got our strong backboards out. We set the boards up against the side, we shot a couple struts across to keep everything from falling in so there was no more cave in. Then our guys just started digging by hand,” Laszczak said.

Officials worked feverishly to free him, rotating firefighters and trying to reassure the man.

Firefighter Rob Loring was down in that trench, just inches away from the man's face.

"He just kept saying, 'I don't want to die, don't let me die,’” Loring said.

In spite of his pain, the man expressed gratitude in the middle of it all.

"He kept saying thank you, then as we moved dirt, he would let us know too, that feels good, that feels good, so we'd concentrate in that area,” Loring said.

After two hours of skill, commitment and teamwork that man was rescued. Firefighter Loring lifted him out.

“We cut his boot and I was able to pull his leg out of the boot, once we got down to the real bottom. It's a great feeling,” Loring said.

A feeling they all treasure.

"Being a fireman, every day you put this uniform on and it's a challenge and you step up and it's a risk and it's a risk we take as fireman. And you can have happy endings like that it makes it well worth it,” Laszczak said.

Fire officials said there wasn't a trench box in place when that ground collapsed and they said there should have been one in place.

State investigators will be looking into what happened. 

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