Worker rescued after trench wall along Kearns Boulevard collapses
A wall of a trench crews are digging along Kearns Boulevard collapsed Tuesday morning, trapping a worker in dirt up to his waist for nearly two hours as firefighters rushed to free him in a dramatic rescue effort.
The Park City Fire District firefighters lifted him out of the trench on a stretcher at 11:20 a.m. and quickly brought him across Kearns Boulevard to a waiting medical helicopter. The helicopter took off heading to the University Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Bob Evans, a Park City Fire District battalion chief who was among 18 firefighters and paramedics who responded to the scene, said the man was suffering extensive pain from his pelvis down. It did not appear that he suffered broken bones, Evans said. The man appeared to be in stable condition when he was brought out of the trench, Evans said. He remained alert throughout the rescue, Evans said.
The authorities did not release the man’s name. Evans said he is approximately 40 years old. The construction crews are preparing to build a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Kearns Boulevard at the Comstock Drive intersection. The man works for Bowen Construction, the general contractor, City Hall spokesperson Phyllis Robinson said. It was not known where the man is from.
The dirt walls of the trench are 10 feet tall. Firefighters conducted an intricate rescue, using prefabricated panels to shore up the walls of the trench to guard against another collapse. Evans said the panels were placed in the shape of an 8-foot-wide box around the man before he was able to be brought out. Four compressed-air jacks were put into place across the trench to stabilize the panels. The rescuers wore rappelling gear as they worked inside the trench.
Evans said the paramedics gave the man pain medication through an intravenous needle inserted once the trench was stabilized. Once ready, the firefighters quickly lifted the man out on a stretcher that had been lowered into the trench. The firefighters shouted encouraging words to the man as they worked around him. He was wearing jeans, an orange, short-sleeved T-shirt, a hard hat and work boots when he was brought out.
The medical personnel then rushed the stretcher across Kearns Boulevard to the medical helicopter, which landed in the Treasure Mountain International School parking lot while the rescuers were still preparing to lift the man out of the trench.
Evans called the operation a "low-frequency, high-risk rescue for us." He said there was a danger of the man suffering injuries to his lower body resembling those of people who are crushed. He said the man received medication to treat those sorts of injuries in addition to the pain medication.
The Park City Building Department, which sent officials to the site, will investigate the collapse. Robinson, who also responded, was unsure when work would restart.
The Park City Police Department closed a stretch of Kearns Boulevard close to the site for approximately 2 1/2 hours, directing drivers onto streets in Prospector.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”