Man Seeking Collectibles Dies in Trench Collapse

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 |

On Tuesday, June 07, 2005 at 7:43 PM PDT, fourteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, including one Urban Search and Rescue Company, one Heavy Rescue Company, six Rescue Ambulances, one EMS District Captain, one Helicopter, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and various LAFD support and Command resources, all under the direction of Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Michael Fulmis responded to a Trench Rescue with Civilian Fatality near 474 East Commercial Street east of the Civic Center.

The first Company arrived quickly at an open-air future railroad construction site to discover two adult males trapped within their own amateur excavation at the base of a sizeable earthen embankment.

According to witnesses, the two men were among a party of four friends and relatives seeking to unearth collectible remnants of a brewery that once occupied the site, when tons of collapsing soil buried one man and nearly buried another. The lesser trapped man was able to scramble free as Firefighters arrived to find only the uppermost torso and face of his male companion exposed to the twilight.

As nearly six-dozen additional Firefighters and Paramedics made their way to the scene with specialized skills and equipment, their first arriving colleagues sought to physically stabilize the sophomoric excavation, while emotionally supporting and medically treating the speaking victim, whose consciousness was waning.

Even with the prompt arrival and added benefit of specially trained and equipped Los Angeles Firefighters, the tons of loamy earth encroached rapidly upon the man, who soon became pulseless and apneic.

Despite nearly forty minutes of intense and skillful efforts to free him - at times with the victim's own encouragement, the man was determined to be beyond the help of the nearly one hundred Fire Department personnel on scene. Still entrapped, the rescue became a recovery when he was officially declared deceased at 8:22 PM by the very Firefighters who first embraced him.

The dolorous and still dangerous task of recovering the man's body became a mission of dignity and respect by the men and women of the LAFD, as Firefighter's gently transferred his remains to the care of an on-site Coroner's representative at 9:30 PM.

The 65 year-old male companion who had earlier scrambled free from the collapse was taken to the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in fair condition. There were no physical injuries to Firefighters, or to the remaining pair of urban archeologists.

Critical Incident Stress Management team members from the LAFD's Employee Behavioral Health Program were brought to the scene and later made available to those Firefighters and survivors who wished to debrief or discuss the matter among their peers.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office will be jointly investigating circumstances surrounding the trapped man’s death.


Anonymous said...

You guys did a valiant and respectful job on this one.

Rodger Jacobs
Glendale, CA

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