An Indiana construction worker was rescued last weekend after being trapped for four hours after a collapse in a 10-foot-deep trench that was filled with water to his shoulders.
Dustin Leake, 35, told reporters he was lucky to be alive after a “freak” accident on Saturday that nearly cost him his life.
Leake, an experienced construction worker, said he was unable to breathe or speak during the harrowing ordeal.
“You know a lot of people get a life-or-death scare that lasts 40 seconds,” he said. “Mine lasted four hours. Four o’clock. I was afraid for my life.’
Indiana, 35-year-old construction worker Dustin Leake is lucky to be alive after a freak accident that happened Saturday at a work site in Noblesville.
Leake and his brother were pumping water from a trench to prepare it for a sewer pipe installation when the trench collapsed
Leake stepped off a ladder when the ground gave way beneath his feet and plunged him into this mud
According to a statement from the Indianapolis Fire Department, a Millennium Contractors crew had been at the scene at 159th Street and Old Pond Road for approximately three hours on Saturday morning to pump water from a trench to prepare it for a sewer pipe installation. when the ditch collapsed.
Leake has worked for Millennium Construction for the past 14 years
Leake, who has worked for the construction company for 14 years, found himself in a hole filled with muddy water, 18 feet below the ground the moment he stepped off a ladder and on what he mistakenly believed was solid ground.
His brother, Devin Leake, also a construction worker, was on site and witnessed the collapse.
“The ground came out from under me and before I knew it I was pressed against the plate,” Dustin said Fox 59 after his close call.
Firefighters from Indianapolis and the suburb of Noblesville worked shifts for the next four hours to stabilize the trench to prevent Leake from drowning as he dug gravel from beneath him.
Dustin said he felt the swampy ground sucking him in and he was having trouble breathing.
“I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t talk and you know I was just starting to slow down,” he said. “There’s a steel plate I went under and I started rolling under it and it crushed me.”
Firefighters from multiple departments arrived on the scene and took part in the complex rescue operation
It took firefighters four hours to get the trapped worker to safety before he was drowned or crushed by the weight of wet debris in the ditch
With vacuum trucks, 25,000 liters of water were pumped out of the ditch in four hours
Kevin Jones, chief of special operations for the Indianapolis Fire Department, credited Devin for keeping his brother calm and during the grueling four-hour rescue.
“They would talk to each other and regroup a bit and get back into the right mindset to help us out,” Jones said of the Leake brothers.
Devin told the station there were times when he thought his brother wouldn’t make it.
“I thought he was going to be buried,” he said of Dustin. “I thought he was going to be buried alive.”
First responders used vacuum trucks to remove more than 25,000 gallons of water from the hole, finally getting Leake to safety around 2:00 p.m. after four hours.
Just after 2pm on Saturday, Leake emerged from the hole, having survived four hours in the water
Leake was able to climb a ladder to the surface after nearly being crushed in the ditch
Leake was taken to a hospital in good condition. He is pictured while being transported
Dustin Leake (left) and his brother, Devin (right), speak to a Fox 59 reporter about the rescue
Video and photos taken at the scene show the mud-covered construction worker making it out of the trench alive with the help of firefighters.
Recalling the moment when he was able to climb a ladder out of the ditch, Dustin said he felt immediate relief.
Leake was flown to Methodist Hospital, where he was listed in good condition.
“The extraordinary teamwork and efforts of everyone involved today gave Dustin the best chance of a good result,” said the Indianapolis Fire Department.
Dustin expressed his gratitude to all the firefighters who participated in the complex multi-agency rescue, saying he would like to reunite with them to personally thank them for saving his life.
“They were great, more than great,” Dustin said.