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First Responders Free Worker Trapped in Grand Street Cave-in

By  Sybile Penhirin Lisha Arino and Janon Fisher | January 21, 2015 4:57pm | Updated on January 21, 2015 7:24pm

 First responders worked quickly to pull a man buried by dirt while working in a trench at 413 Grand St. on Jan. 21, 2015
First Responders Work to Free Worker Trapped in Grand Street Cave-in
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LOWER EAST SIDE — Firefighters, police and utility workers freed a construction worker trapped for an hour more than 10 feet below ground in a cave-in at Seward Park Cooperative Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.

The man was working in a trench when a sidewall collapsed, burying him face down in about two feet of dirt, at an excavation site at 413 Grand St about 4 p.m., a witness and fire spokesman said.

First responders freed the man about 5 p.m. and took him to Bellevue Hospital in critical but stable condition where he is expected to recover. He suffered injuries to his chest, hips, arms and legs. 

"When dirt collapses it travels at approximately 40 miles an hour so you’re not out running it, and he was completely buried," FDNY Assistant Chief James Daly said at the scene. 

Miguel Gonzalez, who was working for a private contractor at the time of the accident, said he heard construction workers yelling "Willie, Willie, Willie."

"I heard guys screaming 'He got buried under dirt," Gonzalez said.

He said that the workers shoveled the dirt off the man with their hands, but he was still buried up to the waist.

"I thought he was dead when I first seen him," Gonzalez said. "When we first pulled him up I thought he was dead. He was little bluish in the face and once the air started hitting him he started coming back to life."

Responders used a Con Ed vacuum truck to remove the soil around the trapped worker. 

EMS workers who specialize in confined space rescues then entered the trench and administered an IV and pain medication before he was removed. 

The man was working in the trench after a report of a leaking standpipe system in a nearby building. 

He was employed by the building and the FDNY said they did not immediately know which company he worked for. 

“They were able to get access to the patient in the hole very quickly and were able to assess the patient and start treating him right away," said Glenn Asaeda, Chief Medical Director for the FDNY.