Recovery Effort Yields Bodies of 2 Men in St. Paul Trench Collapse

After a trench collapsed near St. Paul on Friday afternoon, firefighters discovered the deaths of two workmen late Friday and early Saturday.

From the time of the dispatch at 2:40 p.m. to the time of the rescue operation in the Highland Park area, it took around 12 hours.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Roy Mokosso, the guys seemed to be working on water or sewer hookups near an apartment complex under construction at Mount Curve Boulevard and Pinehurst Avenue.

According to Mokosso, the trench collapse was around 9 feet deep and 20 feet long.

Another worker who wasn’t in the trench “made an initial attempt” to bring the employees out before realizing they needed to contact 911, according to Mokosso.

The reason of the collapse is being looked into.

“Any disturbed ground is prone to collapse or cave-in,” Mokosso added. “A lot of things might have gone wrong.”

According to Mokosso, a trench box, which is designed to protect employees in the case of a collapse, was nearby but not in the trench at the time.

One of the employees was around 6 feet inside the ditch and was partially visible, but responders could see that his “injuries were incompatible with life,” according to Mokosso. At 9:20 p.m. on Friday, firefighters were able to pull his corpse from the trench.

The other worker was not seen and was found approximately 9 feet into the ditch. He was found at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, trench collapse victims generally perish in minutes,” Mokosso added.

The men’s families have been told, but their names have not been made public.

The recovery efforts were handled by St. Paul and Minneapolis firemen who are members of a technical rescue team that reacts to trench and other building collapses, as well as St. Paul public works employees.

“Getting someone out of a ditch is a tough, protracted procedure,” Mokosso added. They utilize a vacuum truck to break up dirt and suction it up, as well as an air knife to discharge high-pressure air at the soil to break it up.

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