Utah man, buried up to his chin, rescued from trench collapse in Cedar Hills

Mar 26, 2024, 4:19 PM | Updated: 10:27 pm

CEDAR HILLS, Utah County — A man, 20, was rescued from a trench collapse Tuesday after he was buried up to his chin in dirt. Rescue officials said the worker remained conscious through the entire rescue.

Workers told KSL TV, in deep trenches like the one in Cedar Hills, when there is a collapse, it’s often a recovery, not a rescue.

Crews used several methods to pull the man out of the trench, including shoring up the trench and then using a vacuum truck to remove the dirt out of the hole, according to Justin Whatcott with the American Fork Fire Department. The man injured was taken to the hospital by air.

“His co-workers, when we arrived, were attempting to dig him out,” Whatcott said. “I think our victim was very lucky.”

His head and shoulders were cleared for emergency crews, giving him the maximum air possible.

Utah Valley Metro’s Special Response team was part of the multi-unit rescue efforts and had recently trained for the trench rescue. Officials said the trench was for work on a home with sewer-line troubles, and the man caught in the collapsing dirt was a private contractor.

“We’re very grateful for the three fire departments that were here,” worker Rick Jones said. “A lot of people say a 4-foot (trench) is not a lot, but a 3-foot will hurt you.”

The 10-foot-deep trench had to be shored up before the man could be dug out, and Whatcott said the rescue was methodical. Cedar Hills Mayor Denise Andersen said the rescue took approximately 90 minutes. The emergency call was placed at approximately 1 p.m.

Whatcott said between 40 and 50 rescuers were at the collapse to help.

The man’s condition wasn’t immediately known, but officials said they were concerned about the physical trauma a trench collapse victim can experience with heavy loads of earth. The man’s identity has not been released. It’s not known if the house was inhabited.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Utah man, buried up to his chin, rescued from trench collapse in Cedar Hills