- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Montgomery County rescue workers yesterday freed a construction worker trapped for five hours after a trench in which he was working collapsed outside a Rockville house.

The 41-year-old Brazilian was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for injuries and other medical problems, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the county fire department.

The worker, whose name was not released, was in stable condition.

He became trapped at about 9 a.m. when the walls of a T-shaped trench fell onto a group of workers in front of a house in the 700 block of Beall Avenue. The workers were preparing to do plumbing, Mr. Piringer said.

Mr. Piringer said the man was buried up to his waist by dirt.

He was hit with a couple of hundred pounds of pressure, which is like being struck by a small vehicle, Mr. Piringer said.

The man showed signs of hypothermia. Rescue workers pumped warm air and provided oxygen.

At about 2 p.m., rescue workers hoisted the man out of the trench.

Mr. Piringer said the collapse was attributed to a lack of proper support for the walls.

Trench operations are common, but incorrect procedures can lead to serious accidents or fatalities, said Robert L. Lawson, commissioner of labor and industry in Maryland.

“This usually happens because some step of the procedure was not followed,” he said. “Trenching accidents are not very forgiving.”

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