Crane used to extricate worker from 8-foot trench Construction worker removed 4 1/2 hours after falling

March 26, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

Gayland Buckingham had a great fall.

It took 40 Howard and Montgomery County firefighters 4 1/2 hours -- and a crane -- to pick the 375-pound construction worker up again, after he fell 8 feet into a trench yesterday on a building site in West Friendship.

"He's [fortunate] the trench didn't fall down on him," said Lt. Michael Baker, a spokesman for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue. "The toughest part of it all was his fall."

The incident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. when Mr. Buckingham, 43, of Westminster, lost his footing on loose soil and dropped into the trench along the foundation of an unfinished two-story house in the new Quarterfield development.

"We went to help him, but he said his leg was hurting," said co-worker Steve Lindsay, who was among those who called for emergency assistance rather than try to extricate Mr. Buckingham themselves. "We just didn't want to hurt him anymore."

Howard rescue workers on the scene called for assistance from the special Collapse Rescue Team from Montgomery County, which helped with excavation of the federal building destroyed in the Oklahoma City bombing last year.

As Mr. Buckingham lay on his back in the trench the rescue workers started the time-consuming process of stabilizing the 5-foot by 30-foot trench in preparation for removing Mr. Buckingham.

They placed boards around the edges of the trench to keep dirt from falling into it, then fixed planks against the trench walls so no other soil would collapse when rescuers went into it.

Once some shoring was installed around Mr. Buckingham, one medic at a time was allowed to delicately move inside the edge of the trench and assess his injuries, which turned out to be a broken leg.

"It looks simple -- but it's not," said Assistant Chief Monte Fitch, of the Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue, who at 2 p.m. predicted the rescue could last five more hours -- a prediction workers would beat by several hours.

Throughout the ordeal, Mr. Buckingham -- dressed in jeans and a navy plaid shirt -- lay mostly quiet, though workers said he at times voiced frustration with the pace of the rescue.

And at 3: 53 p.m., as scores of rescuers and co-workers watched, Mr. Buckingham was moved onto a metal stretcher and hoisted out of the trench with the same crane used to lift heavy plywood to the top of the house under construction.

He was taken to Howard County General Hospital, treated and released last evening, a hospital spokesman said.

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health officials at the scene would not comment on the incident while it is being investigated. The Quarterfield housing development is being built by Dale Thompson Builders of Columbia's Kings Contrivance village.

Howard fire officials said Mr. Buckingham's work team apparently did not violate safety procedures by not having the trench supported by shoring because they were not working in it at the time.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.