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Firefighters rescue Indianapolis construction worker trapped in trench

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis firefighters on Wednesday came to the aid of a construction worker trapped in a trench on the city’s near-east side.

Just after 11:20 a.m., the Indianapolis Fire Department was called to a construction site at the Grass Creek housing addition near the intersection of South Mitthoeffer Road and Rawles Avenue.

Adam Collar, a 36-year-old construction worker, was completely covered in dirt and trapped in a trench reported to be 4 feet wide and 5 feet deep, IFD said in a statement. The trench was 8 feet deep until the trench collapsed, which brought the depth to 5 feet.

Firefighters arrived and began digging in the area where they believed Collar to be trapped.

The firefighters were able to communicate with Collar and heard muffled sounds, but could not see him.

After about five minutes of digging, rescuers had created a hole large enough for fresh air to enter the space where they believed Collar was located. Within 20 minutes, Collar’s head was completely uncovered.

“The aggressive actions of the four members from IFD engine 43 and ladder 43 clearly gave this victim the best chance at survival and prevented critical injury,” IFD Batallion Chief Rita Reith said in a statement.

Once his head was uncovered, Collar told firefighters he was “fine” but the dirt was heavy and he could not feel his legs.

Collar said he went into the trench to install a sewer pipe and had been in the trench for about half an hour before it collapsed. He was completely buried for about 40 minutes before IFD arrived.

“He stated that as the dirt fell around him, he buffered his face with his arms which created a pocket of space underneath the dirt. He was able to breathe enough air to stay alert but was reported as having difficulty breathing at the time IFD was dispatched,” Reith said.

The IFD Collapse Rescue Team arrived at around 11:40 a.m. and continued the digging and shoring efforts needed to remove Collar from the trench.

Reith says the biggest hurdle of the rescue was removing the dirt, which was muddy, compact, and heavy. Firefighters were also challenged by the continued need to build out and adjust shoring efforts as dirt was removed from the trench.

Additional manpower from the Hancock County Technical Rescue Team and the use of shovels, hand tools, an air knife, and the Greenwood Vac Truck “were vital” to the rescue, Reith says. Collar also helped rescuers by removing dirt from around his body by hand and with a shovel.

By 2:15 p.m., Collar was said to be 95% free, with the exception of one of his legs, which was pinned underneath and against the pipe he had been installing.

Just before 2:40 p.m., almost 3 1/2 hours after rescue crews arrived, Collar was freed from the trench.

Collar was rushed to Eskenazi Hospital, where he was checked for injuries and released. He had no broken bones and no hypothermia, according to IFD.