Fire and ambulance crews rescued a man who got stuck waist-deep in a trench Wednesday afternoon at a home on Westridge in Maryville.
Rescuers pulled the 38-year-old man from the trench after about an hour of work. He was mud-covered and being given intravenous fluids after he emerged, but appeared not to have suffered any trauma that a shower wouldn’t wash away. The man appeared in good spirits, smiling with his rescuers, and stood on his own power. One leg appeared to be bandaged as he then was wheeled away to an ambulance.
The man, whose identity was not released, was a friend of the Frey family who lives at 6 Westridge, and was assisting them with a broken water pipe buried at least 7 feet below ground near the house’s foundation. Ben Frey was working with the man to fix the water line when the sodden ground gave way and the man sank up to his waist in mud.
“He started to sink and the walls started collapsing down around him,” Frey said.
Frey was almost trapped himself, and tried to help the man escape, but was unable to free him. So they called 911, and firefighters and paramedics from Maryville, Troy and Glen Carbon responded.
The man’s right leg was trapped in compacted mud, according to Doug Drobisch, assistant fire chief for Maryville Fire Department. The hole was 7 feet deep, so it was well over his head. Firefighters had to stabilize the hole’s walls first before using buckets, shovels and a garden hoe to remove mud and clay from around the man’s body by the bucketful so he could be retrieved.
“A trench collapse is always serious because soil is unstable,” Drobisch said.
Rescuers used ground pads and other equipment to stabilize the ground for the safety of the victim and the rescuers, he said. They also kept an IV going because people who are trapped in the ground can become compressed and suffer lactic acidosis, unsafe drops in blood pressure and other complications, he said.
But the man remained conscious and talking all the time, Drobisch said.
“He was in great spirits, talking with us the whole time and making jokes with us,” Drobisch said.
The man was taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville for evaluation after the rescue.