Trench Rescue in Portland Area Saves Worker from Utility Trench Collapse in Portland Area

A narrow 15-foot trench collapsed in a residential area of Cedar Hills in Southwest Portland Monday morning, trapping a utility worker for nearly four hours.

Portland area firefighter and technical rescue teams responded about 11:00 a.m. Monday to 12715 SW Bowmont Street in Cedar Hills to a trench collapse. After 3 1/2 hours, Danny Russu, age 21, who was trapped under 600 pounds of dirt was rescued.

Danny Russu, 21, of Gresham and two other men were working a routine job in a sewer line trench. The trench was about 11 feet deep when it collapsed. Two men escaped but Russu was buried.

“First and foremost, our employee seems to be doing well for which we are extremely grateful. Next, safety takes top priority here at Apollo Drain. As such, we take every safety precaution on our excavation job sites including strict adherence to all OSHA standards. We believe this was an unfortunate freak accident possibly due to the recent overabundance of rain in our area. All indications from emergency personnel are that the quick actions of his fellow workers likely saved his life. Finally, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of the emergency workers that worked tirelessly to not only safely extricate him, but to keep him calm in what was surely a frightening situation.”

— Apollo Drain & Rooter Services Inc

Ryan Bird and another coworker from Apollo Drain & Rooter Services Inc rushed to claw away dirt with their bare hands until they managed to uncover Russu’s face so he could breathe. The co-workers also braced themselves against the side of the trench to keep it open and prevent further collapse.

The rescue team worked on Advanced Life Support patient care with intravenous fluids, heat, and oxygen as they worked on extricating the victim from the trench. The rescue team consisted of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Portland Fire Department, Metro West, Clean Water Services, and a physician.

Russu extricated out of the ground just after 2:30 p.m., and was taken by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he was listed in serious condition Monday night in ICU.

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