RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — First responders undertook a delicate and difficult rescue operation Thursday, after a trench collapsed in Westchester County.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the rescuers were in a race against time when the two workers became trapped in tons of dirt after the walls of the trench gave way.
“While in the trench, the trench collapsed and they became stuck in the trench,” said Rye Mayor Joe Sack.
According to Rye fire Lt. Kurt Tietjen, the workers were buried about chest-deep in the 7-foot hole.
The trench collapsed and pinned the workers up against the foundation of a home on Bradford Avenue off Post Road in Rye around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, CBS 2’s Jim Smith reported from Chopper 2.
As WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported, the workers were plugging leaks around the home’s foundation when the trench collapsed.
“I’ve been told that there was a leak in the foundation, and they were attempting to repair that leak,” Tietjen said.
The homeowner called 911, officials said.
Firefighters from Rye, White Plains, New Rochelle and other nearby towns – and Con Edison crews – were called to the scene. Crews used specialized equipment to get access to the workers.
A truck that acts like a giant vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the trench was brought in, Smith reported.
“Instead of putting somebody in the hole to hand-dig, they can use the vacuum to suck the dirt out of the hole and relieve the pressure,” Tietjen said.
Tietjen said the workers were buried to their mid-chests, and their heads were free all the time.
“They were on oxygen relatively quick, but at no point were they in respiratory duress,” Tietjen said.
After an hour and 15 minutes, the men were hoisted out by ropes – conscious, but in need of medical care.
One of the workers appeared to be grimacing as he was rescued and taken to an ambulance – five minutes after the first man was freed.
“One was clearly in pain, and the other was certainly uncomfortable,” Tietjen said.
The circumstances of the investigation, and whether the trench was being properly shored up, will be investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
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