The crew was placing a water supply pipe for a new home. One worker was operating the backhoe and two other workers were working in the shoreless trench.
Typically, most trenches are pretty stable in ground like this that hasn’t been interrupted for some time. The workers thought this was the case and their work commenced without shoring.
Ted was working at the exact point where the collapse took place. He was leaning over when the slab of soil hit him. his head was pushed down by his legs. Lucky for Ted his body placement created an air pocket.
Bill was approximately twenty feet from Ted. The collapse pinned Bill up to his lower mid-chest point.
Sam, the backhoe operator made the call for rescue. Firefighters arrived shortly thereafter. The firefighters were told by Bill that Ted was covered by dirt. Ground pads and trench panels were placed in and around the trench.
As the rescue team centered on the point told by Bill, they faintly heard something. It was Ted hollering for rescue. Hand bucket after hand bucket of dirt was scooped from the trench where Ted’s voice was heard.
Finally, the top of Ted’s ball cap became visible. An oxygen line was passed into space beside Ted’s head. First the firefighters uncovered the soil area around Ted’s head. From there it took another hour to finally remove Ted from his earthly tomb. While Ted was being rescued Bill was also rescued.
This near fatality accident reinforces the importance of trench shoring. This easily could’ve been a double fatality accident. What it was, was two lucky plumbers.
*This accident happened in Salina back in the early 1990’s.