Worker freed after trench collapses in Delaware

GWINHURST, Del. - January 27, 2014

The trench was dug out next to a home on West Delaware Avenue in Gwinhurst.

The Claymont Fire Department got the call just after 11:30 this morning. They arrived to find the 30-year-old workman pinned by mud against the wall of the foundation of the home.

Otha Smith and the work crew had been digging out the mud surrounding the foundation by hand. Three of them got out - but a fourth got stuck.

Smith tells us, "This is a little freak accident. I mean, the dirt collapsed on one of the guys… and just pieces of dirt collapsed down on his leg."

Chief Ed Hessell of the Claymont Fire Department, explains, "Upon arrival we found him to be trapped with dirt up to his knees."

The Claymont Fire Department has a special operations team trained for trench rescues. They got to work shoring up the walls of the trench. Paramedics supplied the trapped worker with oxygen and monitored his vital signs.

Minute after minute the work went on.

Chief Hessell said, "You gotta secure the area. You don't want to get anybody else trapped in the trench itself so you gotta do all your steps to get him out safely."

Arnold Price is the homeowner. He says he could tell the worker was in pain.

"A lot of pain. It's dirt piled against you. I am sure it scared him. I am sure he was hurting," said Price.

Finally after an hour, the worker was secured to a board and pulled up out from muddy trench. He is expected to be okay.

The chief tells us, "During the whole operation, he was alert and conscious and talking to us."

There was an OSHA investigator on the scene this afternoon. They will conduct an investigation.

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