Two saved from trench collapse

Dirt was vacuumed out of a collapsed trench so two construction workers could escape after being trapped for more than an hour on July 31.

Dirt was vacuumed out of a collapsed trench so two construction workers could escape after being trapped for more than an hour on July 31.

By JOHN BRANDI 
and ALINA SURIEL
Two construction workers were rescued from a trench collapse on Bradford Avenue in Rye on Thursday, July 31, according to emergency personnel officials.

The two men were in a seven-foot-deep hole at approximately 11:15 a.m. working on a home repair job, when the walls of the trench gave way, Rye Fire Lt. Kurt Tietjen said. Both men were buried mid-chest, with their heads free, according to Tietjen.

The trench was dug as part of the process to repair a leak in the foundation of the 15 Bradford Ave. home.

Rye Police and fire responded to the incident. A call was placed by emergency personnel officials to the Rye Department of Public Works for a vacuum truck to assist with the removal of dirt and to relieve pressure around the two men.

The vacuum truck is usually used for sewer repair and “special circumstances,” according to Rye Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican.

Plywood was placed around the trench to brace the ground to prevent further collapse during the rescue effort.

Once the dirt was cleared, the two men were pulled up with a rope pulley system. The first victim was freed at approximately 12:29 p.m. and the second at approximately 12:35 p.m. Both men were conscious and alert.

They were given oxygen and taken to Westchester Medical Center, where they were in stable condition, according to Tietjen.

Mayor Joe Sack, center, and fire Lt. Kurt Tietjen, left, explain the situation that left two construction workers trapped under a collapsed trench at a Bradford Avenue home last week. Photos/Alina Suriel

Mayor Joe Sack, center, and fire Lt. Kurt Tietjen, left, explain the situation that left two construction workers trapped under a collapsed trench at a Bradford Avenue home last week. Photos/Alina Suriel

“One was really in pain, and one was certainly uncomfortable and wanted out of that hole as fast as possible,” Tietjen said.

The incident required a cooperative effort among first responders from across Westchester County because it was a “complex job” that was “man-power intensive,” Tietjen said. He said Rye just didn’t have the tools to excavate the men.

Also responding were New Rochelle fire, White Plains fire, Westchester County Technical Rescue and Port Chester, Rye and Scarsdale EMS.

Rye Police Lt. Scott Craig shared Tietjen’s sentiment and thought the additional resources made the rescue a successful operation.

“Sometimes in Westchester, agencies are too small to handle large jobs like this, so [the] mutual aid we get from everybody else and the quick response certainly makes these types of events a success,”
he said.

Mayor Sack commended the work of emergency personnel.

“I would like to commend the Rye police, fire and public works departments for responding quickly and keeping their cool in an otherwise frantic situation.  We were also lucky to have EMS, the County, and the White Plains and New Rochelle fire departments at our side,” he said.

Firefighters on the scene had theories about what may have caused the collapse.

“When we arrived, there were no barriers or anything,” Kyle Ramalho, a volunteer Rye firefighter said.

Ramalho said barriers are needed for reinforcement in the walls of an underground structure where people are working. In some structures the absence of reinforcement barriers is illegal, but whether or not this is the case on Bradford Avenue is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration.

CONTACT: alina@hometwn.com;
johnb@hometwn.com