On Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 2:51 PM, 8 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 5 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 2 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 65 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Assistant Chief David Yamahata, responded to a Trench Collapse with Civilian Fatality at 3931 Oeste Avenue in Studio City.

Firefighters arrived quickly to find an unconscious and non-breathing adult male worker buried to his neck deep within an excavation for a sewer line at a hillside residential construction site.

According to witnesses, the 33 year-old man - a ten year employee of a private construction firm, was last seen working in or near the 8 foot deep by 2 foot wide trench when the worksite foreman departed for an errand.

The collapse was not witnessed by other construction personnel working remotely on the property, and only noted by the foreman upon his return to the site after an unspecified period of time.

© Photo by Michael Corral. Click to view more...
With an LAFD Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team and LAFD Heavy Rescue Unit proactively assigned to the initial response, Firefighter/Dispatchers also summoned a trio of large vacuum trucks from the City's Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation to assist with efficient soil removal, of what commenced wholeheartedly as a rescue operation.

With safety, speed and well-practiced efficiency, LAFD trench rescue equipment and personnel were relayed to the site, as both medical oxygen and breathing air lines were swiftly made ready. As the soil was promptly shored to protect both the patient and responders, USAR certified LAFD Paramedics were soon face-to-face with the trapped worker, to sadly determine with great certainty that he was beyond medical help.

© Photo by Shawn Kaye. Click to view more...
Declaring the man deceased at 3:10 PM, rescuers - still together as a team, began the dolorous transition to recovery of the man's remains. With the enhanced shoring of trench walls and key safety procedures in place, firefighters commenced a precise rotation of personnel for the labor-intensive effort of exhuming the man's body.

More than three hours after they were first summoned, Los Angeles Fire Department responders removed the man from the trench in a dignified and respectful manner, placing his remains in custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

No other injuries were reported.

A positive identification of the dead man, as well as the precise cause, time and manner of his death will be determined by the Coroner's Office.

Representatives from the City of Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety joined Cal/OSHA Investigators at the scene.

Questions regarding the presence, need or deceased man's use of safety equipment and approved worksite procedures remains within the purview of Cal/OSHA, which is investigating the workplace fatality.

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department
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