Plumber survives trench collapse in Carroll County

April 07, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

MANCHESTER -- A ditch that caved in on a 23-year-old plumbing worker yesterday afternoon wasn't shored up properly, a fire official said, causing Maryland's second construction cave-in in three weeks.

Raymond Smith, an employee of William Blubaugh Plumbing of Silver Run, was in stable condition last night at Carroll County General Hospital after being buried for a few minutes about 4:15 p.m.

"He was very, very lucky," Manchester Fire Chief Steven Miller said. "It was an accident waiting to happen."

Two co-workers were able to dig Mr. Smith out in about five minutes, said Charles E. Bosley, who was watching the workers lay pipe in his yard for a new housing development behind his house in the 2900 block of Bachman Road. One side of the ditch "just dropped in. He just hollered, 'Help.' " He was never unconscious," Mr. Bosley said.

Rescue workers made sure the ditch was safe before going in after Mr. Smith, whose ankle was lodged between a pipe and a rock, said Richard Brooks, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Fire Department.

Mr. Smith smiled and gave the thumbs-up signal as he was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance at 6:30 p.m.

Workers had not properly shored up the sides of the ditch, nor had they sloped it out as required by state regulation, Chief Miller said.

Also, the home the workers were digging next to had been built on fill dirt, making a cave-in more likely, he said.

On March 16, Anne Arundel County firefighters recovered the body of a 32-year-old man who was buried under 6 feet of dirt in Crownsville after an unshored trench caved in.

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