A repair worker was rescued from underneath a New City home Friday after the trench he was working in collapsed, trapping him up to his chest in mud.
The man, whose named was not released, was trapped under the house on Germonds Rd. for two hours, but was reportedly conscious after being rescued. He was placed in a neck brace and brought to Albertus Magnus High School, where he was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center.
The Nanuet Fire Department received a call about the collapse at approximately 1:30 p.m. Friday and the victim was removed from under the home at about 3:30 p.m. Part of the difficulty in the rescue was the type of mud he was buried in.
“The dirt that was compacted on the victim was wet, clay-type dirt, which makes it real heavy,” said Rockland Regional Technical Rescue Team Chief Donald Arterburn. “There was a lot of decorative stone and large boulders in the trench with him.”
One of those boulders was pressed against the victim’s chest when the rescue team arrived.
“That was our first obstacle to move,” Arterburn said. “After that, it was just digging down to get to his feet. His legs were bent, so we had to uncover a good portion of them before we went in to pull him out.”
The emergency workers used a tripod to help lift the man out of the trench. Arterburn estimated the man was about six feet down into the trench.
“Anytime you go below four and a half feet, you risk being buried like this because there is so much weight,” he said. “Figure a cubic foot of dirt weighs 150 pounds, and his feet were well below surface, so there was a lot of dirt and a lot of weight pinning him to the foundation of the house.”
Arterburn added that being down that low could lead to suffocation of being crushed.
Nanuet Fire Commissioner Harold Straut said the agencies involved in the rescue were the Nanuet Fire Department, Rockland Regional Technical Rescue Team, Pearl River Fire Department, Nanuet Ambulance Corps, Rockland Paramedics, Clarkstown Police Department, Clarkstown Building Department, Orange & Rockland, Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) and STAT Flight. The West Nyack Fire Department handled the landing zone and Spring Valley Fire Department stood by for Nanuet in case of any emergencies.
“It was a good operation by everybody that was involved with it, and it was successful,” Straut said.
He added that the man was not only conscious when lifted out of the trench, but was talking to one police officer, who translated from Spanish for the other emergency workers.
Straut said he didn’t know if there were any building violations with the home that might’ve led to the collapse, and that the Clarkstown Police Department and OSHA would conduct an investigation.
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