Workers Rescued After Trench Caves In

Times Staff Writer

Two construction workers were trapped for an hour Friday afternoon in a 30-foot-deep Irvine sewer trench when the dirt walls collapsed, authorities said.

Juan Yanez, 45, and Huvertino Rodriguez, 39, were hoisted out of the trench along Harvard and Valencia avenues after their co-workers, Orange County Fire Department paramedics and Irvine Public Works Department employees bolstered the trench wall.

Irvine Police Lt. Mike White said both men were transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where Yanez was in good condition with minor head and neck injuries, and Rodriguez was in fair condition with moderate head, neck and chest injuries.

The accident occurred about 12:15 p.m. as the men were working in the sewer trench for Bubalo Construction Co. of Reseda, White said.

Orange County Fire Department spokesman Dave Bautista said the men moved a metal shield at the base of the ditch, and one of the walls collapsed on the pair. Bautista said some dirt fell over the shield and hit the men, who then crawled or dragged themselves into a 45-inch sewer line they were installing.

The men could breath but could not remove themselves, authorities said. Once the trench wall was stabilized, firefighters said, rescue workers lowered a long, basketlike stretcher at the end of a fire truck ladder, then lifted the ladder out.

A Fire Department spokesman said addresses of the injured men had not been confirmed--in part because rescuers had trouble communicating with the Spanish-speaking victims. But the spokesman said Yanez was believed to be a resident of Santa Ana and Rodriguez a resident of Rosemead.

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