2nd Avenue subway worker pulled from trench after dramatic 4-hour rescue

Posted at 8:53 AM, Mar 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-20 12:37:02-04

It took 4 intense hours but a man that was trapped underground while working on the Second Avenue subway project was finally freed just before 12:30 Wednesday morning, said authorities.

“The worker had fallen into a slurry, water and soil mixture. It became exactly like quicksand. There were approximately four pieces of plywood on top of him,” said FDNY Chief Donald Hayde.

Dozens of first responders worked under Second Avenue near 95th street to stabilize the environment and free the terrified man.

“He couldn’t free his leg. Plus the slurry was very sticky and it was kind of acting as a suction, causing his leg to sink deeper and deeper into that slurry,” said FDNY Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora.

Authorities said the construction worker was in a lot of pain, covered in mud and needed medication to calm him down. He became trapped at about 8:30 Tuesday night.

“The patient was completely covered in mud. I had to clear his face numerous times with water or saline to keep his airway open,” said EMS Lt. Rafael Goyenechea.

Authorities said pumps were used to move water and mud away from the man and first responders.

As emergency workers did their best to free the trapped worker, an FDNY chaplain headed down below ground to assist as well. Reverent Stephen Harding said he went to “…keep him company and hold his hand and say a prayer.”

Finally, when the worker was lifted out of the 75-foot deep tunnel, he was moved immediately to a waiting ambulance.

The worker was taken to a local hospital, likely with hypothermia. The FDNY said three firefighters suffered minor injuries during the rescue operation.

RELATED: Mocker tours one of the MTA’s big underground projects