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Calif. Man Taken to Hospital after Being Stuck in Muddy Trench for 3 Hours

BRENTWOOD, Calif. -- An Oakland man who was trapped for three hours in a muddy trench in front of a Brentwood home was flown to the hospital after being freed by emergency workers.

The extent of the 50-year-old man's injuries was not immediately known, nor was it clear how he became stuck in the sewage trench while doing work in front of the home at 1594 Dawnview Drive.

Dispatchers began receiving calls around 5:23 p.m. Wednesday, and rescue crews arrived to find the man trapped up to his neck, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Henderson said. The 10-foot-deep trench was approximately 12 feet long by 32 inches wide, carved into what he called "muddy clay."

Rescuers spent three hours removing dirt by hand and putting it in buckets, Henderson said. Meanwhile, paramedics gave him oxygen and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.

With the collapsed earth carved away, emergency workers put straps underneath the man's shoulders and used a fire truck ladder to lift him out at 8:25 p.m.

The man was reported in stable condition, and remained conscious and talking the whole time, Henderson said. He was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, complaining of pain in his legs, pelvis and hips.

Henderson said the trench was part of a project to repair a septic line that was running from a house to the street. It was not known if the man was a contractor or a friend trying to help a friend, Henderson said. Officials from the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate.

About 200 people watched the rescue unfold as more than 50 emergency crew members, 35 of them firefighters from as far away as Moraga, responded to the scene.

"It was three hours of tedious and slow, methodical work that led to this rescue," Henderson said.



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