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Trapped 75 Feet Down, Worker Saved

Monday, March 25, 2013

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A New York City subway construction worker is lucky to be alive and safe after a dramatic rescue freed him from a quicksand-like concrete slurry 75 feet below the street.

Firefighters and EMS members were called to 95th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 19) after a worker at a subway construction site became lodged in the clay-like muck, the Fire Department of New York reported.

FDNY rescue
Photos: Twitter / FDNY

A construction worker spent four hours trapped 75 underground in NYC, stuck in a mixture of water, concrete and soil on Tuesday.

Rescue crews found Joseph Barrone, 51, trapped in an area about the size of a single bed, buried up to his chest in the mixture. What they couldn't see at the time was that Barrone's right leg was also pinned under several pieces of plywood.

Barrone works for a private contractor on the subway construction project, the city's transit agency, MTA, told The New York Post. His employer was not identified.

Underground Rescue

It took 150 firefighters more than four hours to free Barrone. The entire first hour was spent just determining if he was alive, CBS News reported.

Meanwhile, concerned that he might sink deeper into the muck, crews wrapped a rope around his body and secured it to an overhead pipe. Although responders were able to quickly free one of his legs, the rest of his body was being sucked into the mud and the other leg remained trapped.

"I've had situations where I've worked in mud, but not to the extent we had here," said Lt. Paramedic Rafael Goyenechea, the first EMS member to evaluate Barrone.

subway worker stuck

As they worked to free the trapped workers, rescuers became stuck in the mud themselves. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Battalion Chief Don Hayde agreed, saying, "We never really faced something like this. We had to put our heads together."

Pain and Cold

While responders strategized and worked, medics gave Barrone blankets and pain medication. "He said he was fine, just had a little pain and was cold," Goyenechea said.

Firefighters worked to make a trench, digging out mud with their hands, as well as a backhoe, while trying to avoid becoming trapped themselves.

"Everything was done by feel, and they were doing the best they could," said Hayde. "Everyone was in the mud themselves, and their feet were getting caught."

Once they located the plywood that was pinning down Barrone's leg, rescuers used a J-hook on a wire rope to splinter the wood until they were able to manipulate his leg by hand.

"We never really faced something like this," Battalion Chief Don Hayde said later.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

"It was hairy," said Goyenechea. "I got stuck numerous times, and you can't pull yourself up, because you risk injury. I'd just say 'stuck,' and two or three guys [would] pull me up. Then a few minutes later, I pulled them up."

Keeping Calm

As the cold hours ticked by, rescuers worked to keep Barrone calm and warm.

"Also, hypothermia set in quickly, [in] roughly [a] half hour to an hour," a medic told WABC-TV.

At the same time, "we wanted to keep his mind going," said Goyenechea. "so we talked about everything from his family to sports. He's a Dallas Cowboys fan, so we were teasing him about that."

Once he was finally loose, Barrone was lifted to the surface in a basket by a crane and transported to a local hospital. His injuries are said to be serious, but not life-threatening.

"He went through it like a real trouper," Hayde said. "He was calm and made it a lot easier for us."

MTA officials have started an investigation and work at the site has stopped, The New York Post reported.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Construction; Contractors

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