Construction worker rescued from massive trench collapse

Construction worker rescued from massive trench collapse

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WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -  Construction workers endured some terrifying minutes in a trench they were working at in West Bloomfield Tuesday afternoon.

"He was completely buried for upwards of three minutes," said Fire Chief Jay Wiseman.

Employees of Daniel White Excavating were laying pipe in a trench -- about 100 feet long and 10 feet deep -- when suddenly ,  the dirt walls began collapsing on a 39-year-old co-worker and covered him.

"He actually started moving away from it, and an identical collapse occurred just in front of him  which landed on top of him, Wiseman said.

Trapped for a few minutes, two co-workers heard his calls for help,  and began digging him out with their hands and shovels.

"They put themselves in significant peril as well," Wiseman said. "It was a very unstable trench, it still is. It continues to collapse."

His co-workers worked to free him -- within five minutes -- just as police and fire crews arrived. He was rushed to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak., with unbelievably, only minor injuries.

Those at the scene were trying not to imagine what could've happened.

"It can be a combination of suffocation, with a tremendous amount of weight from the debris and the cave-in materials. Along with the traumatic and crushing injuries."

Fire Marshal Pat Riney says it appears the workers weren't following proper safety precautions  with  the pile of dirt not far enough away  and no trench box present. They say  the man is lucky to be alive, thanks to his brave coworkers.

"I think their adrenaline took over," Wiseman said. "They jumped and did what they felt they needed to do."

The investigation into safety violations continues.

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