Two workers hospitalized after construction accident on UNC-Chapel Hill campus

Two contractors were injured when a fortifying beam fell on them at a construction site on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus Tuesday morning.

University officials said both injured workers were conscious when they were rescued by the Chapel Hill Fire Department and taken to UNC Hospitals, but their status is unknown.

The construction accident happened on Medical Drive at South Columbia Street. The workers were repairing a utility steam vault in front of Mitchell Hall, a UNC academic building.

On Twitter, the fire department described the accident as a trench collapse. Orange County Emergency Services and UNC police also responded to the scene.

“I’m extremely proud of our personnel for their calculated safety, speed, and professionalism with which they responded to this call,” Fire Chief Matthew Sullivan said in a statement. “Anytime someone is compromised below ground, the situation is very serious. Our firefighters utilized their recent training to respond accordingly.”

The fire department was able to handle the rescue after recently completing confined space training with the UNC Environment, Health and Safety department. That saved valuable time for the victims, according to the town of Chapel Hill. Before that training, rescues like this one were handled by the South Orange Rescue Squad, which could take longer to arrive at the scene.

South Columbia Street was temporarily closed, and the Chapel Hill Fire Department urged nearby residents to find an alternate route. Traffic appeared to be back to normal by noon.

Chapel Hill public transportation routes serving UNC and UNC Hospitals were detoured. Customers should expect schedule delays, according to Chapel Hill Transit.

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