Trench Rescue In Huntington

By Scott Sarvay

August 5, 2010 Updated Aug 5, 2010 at 5:29 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - If you have ever gone by a road crew or construction site and wondered why there are some guys just standing around there could be a good reason.

Huntington County Emergency Management Director Brandon Taylor says, “Everybody's got their duty, is my thing, you know. Everybody's got their job to do. It's not that they are just standing there, they have a certain purpose to be there and there's a reason for it."

It's no extraordinary job. Huntington city crews were replacing a fire hydrant just outside Huntington North High School in preparation of the beginning of the school year next week.

Just before 9:30 Thursday morning, disaster struck.

Rescuer Doug Kramer says, “The force hit him so hard, that he has a hat that says Carhart on it and the Carhart is imprinted in the side of the bank over here because his head went in between the valve and the hydrant."

Thomas Denton, Jr. was in the hole, working on the hydrant, when the ground collapsed beneath him. The hole was suddenly 6.5 feet deep, burying him up to his chest in wet mud and clay. Denton could not move.

Kramer said, "I just reacted and jumped down. I jumped down and tried to get dirt away from him until we got help here.”
Reporter: “Were you digging with your hands?”
Kramer: “Yeah, yeah."

Co-worker Doug Kramer didn't even think about it and jumped in to help. All in all, thanks to Kramer, other co-workers and rescue workers, Denton was taken to the hospital with only minor injuries.

Kramer says, “His right knee was up underneath the main. The collapse pushed him up underneath the main a little bit, so he's got knee injuries and I saw part of the ground hit him in the back of the neck, so I'm sure he's going to have some neck problems."

There were four guys on this crew. That may seem like a lot to replace a fire hydrant but actually, it is just enough.

Taylor says, “Just like this, with having the extra guy there, or having enough guys here, there was a guy there to be able to call 911, and you know, be able to jump down in there and give him a hand and be able to help dig him out. If it wasn't for that, he could have, with all that dirt on him he could have suffocated before rescue workers got here, or before enough guys got here to be able to help him.

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