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Trench collapse buries 2 workers

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Two construction workers were partially buried, one up to his neck; when the earthen wall of a trench they were working in collapsed Monday afternoon. Neither man was injured in the collapse, which happened about 1:30 p.m. at a construction site in the 8500 block of Crestway in Converse. Both were taken to local hospitals for observation.

Officials in Converse did not release the name of the two construction workers, both in their 30s.

One man was inside the 6-foot-deep trench, laying some piping that would be used for a fire hydrant system, Converse Fire Chief Gene Baldwin Jr. said.

A small backhoe was lowering the pipe into the trench, he said.

As the worker in the trench guided the pipe, the weight of the backhoe caused the earth underneath it to collapse, Baldwin said.

The operator of the backhoe jumped off the machine and into the trench in an effort to help his co-worker, only to find himself buried up to his knees, the fire chief said.

The worker in the trench was buried up to his neck in earth. His body was immobilized, leaning toward his left side with his knees tucked up underneath him, Baldwin said.

It all happened in a matter of seconds.

On the other side of the construction area, Eloy Solorsano and Efrain Alvarado were sitting down, finishing up their lunch break when they heard cries for help.

“We grabbed shovels, pick axes, our hands, just whatever we could use to try to free them,” Solorsano said.

A handful of workers joined Solorsano in digging until firefighters from Converse, San Antonio and Schertz arrived.

The first thing firefighters did was put an oxygen mask on the deeply buried worker, though he was breathing on his own, Baldwin said.

Before digging any farther, rescuers used plywood from the construction site to fortify the sides of the trench to stabilize it.

The man who had been on the backhoe was quickly freed; it was an hour and a half before the other man was extricated from the trench, officials said.

Both were transported to area hospitals as a precautionary measure, Baldwin added.

By 4 p.m. the other workers were back on the job, though the incident remained on their minds.

Alvarado said the crew would take more precautions in the future to avoid a similar incident.

“I’ve never seen an accident like this,” he said.

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