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Worker Rescued After Being Trapped Four Hours In 100-Degree Heat

Battle Creek Fire Department
First responders work to rescue a man trapped in a deep but narrow trench.


A federal safety agency is investigating after a worker was rescued near Keystone after he was buried in a trench collapse for four hours and in 100-degree heat.  


The accident?happened Monday afternoon while the man was working by himself on water pipes, according to Jerome Harvey, Pennington County fire administrator.  


The man works for Alexander Drilling in Hill City, according to a spokeswoman with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She says the agency is investigating the incident.  


Harvey said the man was working 10 to 12 feet underground when the narrow trench collapsed,?burying?and trapping him up to his waist.??The worker yelled for about an hour until someone found him around 2:16 p.m.  


The person called 911 and first responders arrived at the scene. They took three hours to free the man, who was taken to the hospital. It’s unclear what injuries he may have.  


Harvey said trench collapses pose a risk even if workers aren’t completely buried.  


“He was in the trench, against a hillside in front of him that was sloping off into him, so there’s constant pressure being put against his extremities and against his body,” Harvey said.  


One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, OSHA says. The weight of these collapses can?crush lungs and bones.?? 


Harvey said?more than 30 people from a dozen agencies helped with the rescue.  


“It’s a combination of digging by hand, using hand tools, using the good old-fashioned post-hole digger and of course the vacuum truck from the Water Reclamation?Division?of the City of Rapid City (which) played a key role in the removal of the material away from him.”?? 


OSHA?says?companies must create exit points and protect trench walls to prevent collapses.?It doesn’t require spotters but other organizations recommend using them. ??? 


Alexander Drilling did not immediately return a message.  


This isn’t the first trench collapse in South Dakota. One man died and another was rescued during a trench collapse last year in Rapid City.