Man in serious condition after being rescued from collapsed trench

PORTLAND, Ore. - Rescuers pulled a man who had been trapped in a trench for about 3 and a half hours in Cedar Hills to safety Monday afternoon.

The man, named Danny and in his 20s, had been doing sewer work with two co-workers in front of a house when part of the trench collapsed, burying him under two feet of dirt.

After he was pulled from the trench, he was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in fair condition. But later he was downgraded to serious condition and was taken into the intensive care unit, according to a hospital official.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office said the incident happened just before 11 a.m. along the 1700 block of SW Bowmont Street. Firefighters from various agencies including Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Portland Fire Bureau rescued the man at about 2:30 p.m.

The worker was trapped in a 11-foot deep trench when a cave-in occurred. He was lying in the bottom of the trench working to fix a pipe while another co-worker was standing near him in the hole. The third co-worker was on top watching.

His co-workers removed enough dirt from the hole to allow Danny to breathe.

Rescuers brought in a machine to suck dirt out of the trench so they could safely pull the man out. They also cut up pieces of wood to put down the sides of the hole and hold the dirt back and gave Danny an IV for fluids and had bottles releasing oxygen in the hole.

"He's a very religious guy, and he was shouting prayers," one of his co-workers said.

His co-worker said Danny looked at them just before going into the ambulance, smiled and said, "I love you guys."

The man was working for Apollo Drain & Rooter Service Inc. of Gresham. The company sent KATU the following statement:

"First and foremost, our employee seems to be doing well for which we are extremely grateful.

"Next, safety takes top priority here at Apollo Drain. As such, we take every safety precaution on our excavation job sites including strict adherence to all OSHA standards. We believe this was an unfortunate freak accident possibly due to the recent overabundance of rain in our area. All indications from emergency personnel are that the quick actions of his fellow workers likely saved his life.

"Finally, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of the emergency workers that worked tirelessly to not only safely extricate him, but to keep him calm in what was surely a frightening situation."

According to OSHA, it will send two investigators to the site on Tuesday.