Rescuers pulled a construction worker out of a trench three hours after the walls collapsed around him.
The incident was reported around 3 p.m. Thursday at a construction site in the 2100 block of Ridgewood Street.
The construction worker was pulled out from the trench around 6:15 p.m. and transferred to Parkland by care flight helicopter for treatment.
The 34-year-old was buried in loose dirt that covered his head. His fellow workers quickly got it down to his waist until fire fighters arrived to finish out the effort.
The accident happened right in front of G.C. Richey's house. He called 911 when he saw frantic workers who'd been digging a sewer line.
“They were all down in the pit,” remembered Richey. “The backhoe operator, he would run and get in the backhoe, dig a couple of times, then run back to the pit.”
A worker was buried alive about eight feet below the street. Dirt covered his head, but other workers immediately started digging him out. A dangerous call, but one that likely saved the man's life.
“Fortunately, the workers that were on scene initially got the initial soil off of him down to his waist,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jake Taylor with the Irving Fire Department. “We immediately got them out. Therefore, we didn't have more than one patient because it would have caved in on them at some point.”
For hours, firefighters from both Irving and Coppell’s trench rescue team worked to painstakingly shore up the walls in the trench while treating the trapped worker who was in pain and fighting to breathe.
“The soil crushes you to a point anytime you breathe. It's like it continues to squeeze you like an anaconda and you lose all your air,” said Taylor. “He was fighting trying to free himself. It took a lot for our crews to calm him down. They eventually medicated him.”
The fire department says the man was outside a protective steel shield. He either stepped out or fell out of it when the unsecured portion of the trench caved in.
Firefighters agree these calls don’t always end with a worker being pulled out alive.
“He does this for a living,” said Taylor. “So he knows what these types of circumstances are capable of doing to you and that most people don't live through the experience.”
The fire department says the man may have some lower body injuries but was conscious and breathing
The man was working for a third party contractor digging a sewer line for the city of Irving.
OSHA will investigate the incident.