New Castle News

April 3, 2014

Man rescued after trench collapses

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Walter and Patty Koscinski put off repairing their sewer line for as long as they could.

“The original pipes were cracked, filled with tree roots and we were having problems with our laundry and cellar drains,” Walter Koscinski explained.

The Scott Township couple said the project to replace the ceramic pipe with plastic was expected to take a day.

But around lunchtime yesterday, the 10-foot-deep trench on Sylvania Road caved in on one of the workers from Atwell-Perrine Excavating of Mercer. He was trapped for about 20 minutes before being taken to an Ohio hospital.

James Randolph, 28, of Mercer, was “on his way home” around 7 p.m. yesterday, according to his co-worker.

Patty Koscinski said she had made a pizza to serve the workers because there are no fast food establishments nearby.

“As I called outside that the pizza was ready, one man, who was in the trench, started to climb out, but it caved in on him.”

Walter Koscinski said the man was initially buried shoulder-deep in the wet, clay-like soil.

“He yelled for the boss, who rushed in with a shovel and dug him out to about waist deep,” Walter Koscinski said. “But the ground was so wet we couldn’t pull him out, and we were concerned that more of the trench would collapse.”

With the man’s arms free, Koscinski continued, the company owner dipped the bucket of his backhoe into the trench. The worker held on to the end of the bucket and was pulled to safety. The operation took about 15 to 20 minutes, he said.

“He was out of the trench, resting on the load of backfill in the driveway when the ambulance and fire department arrived,” Walter Koscinski said the rescued man had complained of leg pain.

He was taken by ambulance to the Scott Township Volunteer Fire Department on Harlansburg Road, then flown to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.

Randolph’s co-worker, who would give only his first name, Bob, explained Randolph’s legs had been buried and his shoulders and back were against the bank.

As Bob used a pick and a shovel in an effort to free him, he explained, Randolph’s right calf was nicked with the pick because of the odd way his leg was bent under the dirt.

He got three stitches at the hospital for that injury, Bob said, and although he is sore, he escaped without any broken bones.

Scott Fire Chief Jack Hitchen confirmed the man had been freed from the trench before the department arrived.

“We had called out the trench rescue units from Neshannock and Mahoning townships,” Hitchen said. “They were en route when we notified them that they were not needed and could turn back.”

Hitchen added that the Hickory Township Volunteer Fire Department also had been summoned but were called off.

A Scott firefighter said the call was received at 1:02 p.m. and they were at the scene about an hour.

(Email: nlowry