Crane tips worker into trench

Staff WriterNovember 15, 2007 

CHAPEL HILL - Emergency workers spent almost two hours Wednesday rescuing a man who fell into a trench after the small crane he was operating tipped over.

The man, whose name had not been released as of late Wednesday, had been tasked with lowering into the trench two 12-ton concrete vaults for housing electrical equipment under a manhole. The site is just outside the UNC-Chapel Hill power plant on McCauley Street, said Jeff Kidd, UNC-Chapel Hill facility construction engineer.

About 11:45 a.m., the crane, along with the 18-wheeler it was on, tipped to its side. The vault crashed into the trench, and the crane operator landed next to it, said Chapel Hill Fire Department Deputy Chief Robert Bosworth.

The trench was about 12 feet deep, Kidd said.

The man worked for the vault supplier, Oldcastle Precast, based in Concord.

Workers from the Durham and Chapel Hill fire departments, the South Orange Rescue Squad and others helped build reinforcements for the trench before using a fire engine ladder to anchor a pulley to get the man out.

The man remained conscious and spoke with emergency workers throughout, Bosworth said, and he was rescued from the trench about 1:30 p.m. The man waved as workers carried him on a stretcher into an ambulance and took him to UNC Hospitals.

The construction site will be closed until the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration finishes investigating the accident, Kidd said. The investigation is standard procedure.

jessica.rocha@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-2008

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