(La Porte, IN) - A man was taken to a hospital after being completely buried in a trench collapse in LaPorte.
According to a LaPorte Fire Department report, witnesses estimated the man's head was beneath 12 to 18 inches of dirt.
Firefighters just after noon on Wednesday were called to 201 Park Street. According to the report, the man was part of a crew with a subcontracting firm boring underneath the ground to lay fiber lines when the drill bit broke.
A backhoe was used to dig a trench to try and recover the broken bit.
The man jumped into the 10 feet deep and three-foot-wide hole to see if he could grab the bit when the trench walls caved in.
However, LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said no shoring was placed against the walls of the trench to keep it from collapsing on him.
“That’s the problem right there. That’s the issue,” Snyder explained.
According to the report, a co-worker at the machine's controls used the backhoe to remove the dirt covering the man. Then, Snyder said another co-worker using a shovel exposed the man's head and neck before firefighters showed up in less than three minutes.
Firefighters placed medical backboards against the walls of the trench to keep it from collapsing again while digging out the man. The victim climbed out of the hole about 15 minutes later, then walked into the street and collapsed.
Snyder described the man as being incoherent.
“He was not really speaking. He was not aware so much of his surroundings,” Snyder said.
According to the report, the man had a laceration extending from his back to the back of his head. Snyder said it appears the teeth on the backhoe scraped his skin as it was scooping out the dirt.
The injury and other complications that can develop from lack of oxygen and pressure to the body from the dirt appeared to be concerning enough for paramedics to decide to transport him to a trauma center at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
The name of the man and his condition were not disclosed.
According to the report, he worked for Addison Underground Utilities out of Evansville. Attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful.