Worker hospitalized after trench collapse

ROXBOROUGH - October 1, 2008 It happened around 12:30 p.m. Rescuers say a man, identified as 36-year-old Michael Innuzzi, was buried under two feet of dirt.

The first firefighters to arrive on the scene risked their own lives by digging him out by hand.

"It was a very close call. It could have been a lot more dangerous than this," said Deputy Chief Robert Wilkins of the Philadelphia Fire Department. "Then men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department stepped up very quickly, they did what they had to do."

Innuzzzi was buried flat on his back.

When firefighters uncovered his face, he let out a gasp.

Rescuers got him breathing again, but he remained unconcscious.

Innuzzi was rushed to the hospital as soon as he was freed from the trench. He was last reported in critical condition. He may have been buried for as long as six minutes.

One of Innuzzi's coworkers, James Head, was also taken to the hospital in a state of shock and exhaustion after frantically trying to dig him out.

When firefighters arrived they were horrified to find the other workers using a backhoe to uncover Innuzzi.

The men work for Tinneny Plumbing and Heating.

They were installing hookups to a new sewer line on Flamingo Road.

The trench is ten feet deep. Anything deeper than six feet requires shoring along the sides, but there was none here.

Agents from OSHA and L&I have been on the scene investigating.

"The trench should have been shored, and it was not, so we're going to look into it. We're not looking into it as a crime scene," said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

That could change depending on what the investigation reveals.

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