Trench collapse rescue in Dupo
Emergency personnel from several area agencies responded late Monday morning to a trench collapse with a worker trapped at the Union Pacific railyard in the area of Adams Road at Carondelet Avenue in Dupo.
The male victim, a contractor in his early 60s who was working on a sewer system within the railyard, was freed more than three hours later and airlifted to Saint Louis University Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
“He was alert and talking throughout the rescue efforts,” Union Pacific Railroad spokesperson Robynn Tysver said.
Responding agencies included the Dupo and Prairie Du Pont fire departments, Dupo EMS, St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, St. Clair County Special Services, St. Louis Metro Task Force, MedStar Ambulance, the Belleville Fire Department Tech Rescue Team, St. Louis Fire Department Heavy Rescue, and ARCH Air Medical Services.
“We are grateful for the numerous first responders who quickly responded to this incident and who worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon, ensuring a safe rescue,” Tysver said.
The walls of a trench that had been dug collapsed, Tysver explained, resulting in the worker being trapped.
Dupo Fire Department Capt. Monte Miller said workers were in the process of installing a second trench box in a pit near a lift station.
A trench box is made of metal and goes inside a dug trench to stop dirt from falling in. They are 6-8 feet tall on both sides and 5-6 feet wide.
“When the worker climbed out of the hole and stepped on the dirt pile above, the dirt gave way and he slipped between the outside of the trench box and the hole and the dirt then piled in on top of him,” Miller said.
A co-worker attempted to get the man out for about 10 minutes before first responders were called and the victim said it was getting hard for him to breath, Miller added.
“When Dupo firefighters arrived on scene, the man was buried up to his neck with one hand at his face level out of the dirt,” Miller said.
Dupo Fire Chief Kurt Johnson called for a vacuum truck to remove dirt from the pit.
“Once the man was dug out, it was discovered one of his feet had become lodged under the trench box and was prohibiting him from being pulled out,” Miller explained. “Apparently the victim then used a shovel and dug out his own feet and was removed from the pit about 3:45 p.m.”
Dupo EMS and MedStar Ambulance personnel kept the man on portable oxygen bottles to assist his breathing throughout the rescue operation.