APOLLO BEACH, FL (WFLA) -
A man who was trapped in a muddy, 10-foot-deep hole at a construction site in Apollo Beach was rescued by emergency crews after being trapped for more than three hours
The man, who is a construction worker, was working in a man-made hole when the structure he was standing on collapsed at around 3 p.m. Thursday. The ground then collapsed around him. His fellow workers surrounded him with wooden sidewalls in an effort to prevent the mud and dirt from burying him. However, the sidewalls collapsed and pinned the worker.
"It was basically just mud. It was water and sand and basically just mud. And he was up to his waist when we first got here," said Deputy Chief David Travis of Hillsborough Fire Rescue.
Water began entering the hole, which made it difficult for rescue crews, who at times were in waist-deep mud, trying to dig him out.
The man, who was also trapped in mud up to his waist, spoke with rescuers as they worked to free him. Around 5:30 p.m., crews began wrapping the construction worker in blankets as they continued to try to free him from the hole.
"For the last probably half hour we've been working here, he's been out with the exception of his lower left leg, which we were finally able to get out," said Deputy Chief Travis.
He said there was another concern as they worked to free him.
"I'm sure its terrifying and you may not think about it, we're in Florida probably 78 degrees out here but hypothermia actually becomes a consideration, that's something we're always concerned about there," said Travis.
Just before 6 p.m., crews brought a stretcher to the trapped man. They pulled him from the hole, then placed him on the stretcher. They then transported him to the open bed of an awaiting rescue truck which took him to a medical helicopter which then took him to Tampa General Hospital.
After the rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief David Travis briefed the media and said that paramedics began treating the man when he was still in the hole. They were concerned about hypothermia setting in and the pressure of mud on his body for a long period of time.
"I'm pretty confident he's going to be okay," said Travis.
The technical rescue happened at the Waterset subdivision which is located at Big Bend Road and Waterset Boulevard. New homes are under construction at the site. Construction crews are believed to have been working on a pipeline for the subdivision when the hole collapsed onto the worker. There are 6,000 homes planned for the community.
A company called Deme Construction based in Sarasota has 40 to 50 workers at the site.
HCFR first tweeted about the rescue at 3:04 p.m. Fire Rescue had previously tweeted that he was inside a truck when the ground collapsed, but later updated the information.