Firefighters rescue Elkhart man trapped in backyard trench

ELKHART, Ind. -- Friday night a trench rescue team was called to 114 Wagner Avenue in Elkhart after a 25-year-old man got stuck in a 10 foot deep trench in his family's backyard.

Dozens of concerned neighbors lined the street as emergency crews from across Michiana worked to rescue a man, who got stuck in knee deep water while digging a trench in his family's backyard. 

According to police, the young man used a shovel to dig the hole over the course of three days. The man's father discovered him around 6:30 p.m., but it took nearly two hours before emergency crews were able to bring him to the surface. 

"Water starting coming into the hole, it was very sandy soil and his legs got trapped, so he was unable to get out himself," said Elkhart Fire Department's Assistant Battalion Chief Brian Miller.

The M.A.B.A.S. District 2 Special Trench Rescue Team was called in to do the rescue, bringing in a team of specially-trained firefighters from Clay, Nile and Warsaw.

When the team arrived, they found the man in a narrow 10 foot deep hole that was only four feet long and barely the width of the emergency crew's ladder.

Firefighters say they haven't seen anything quite like this before. "This was very unusual for this type of incident," said Miller. 

While digging the man had come across water. The hole then filled up with water and sand, making it virtually impossible to move. That is why emergency crews called in a one of the city's sewer vacuum machines. The machine was used to suck the muddy water out of the hole to free up the man's legs so that crews could pull him to safety. 

The man was immediately taken to Elkhart Memorial Hospital to be checked out. Firefighters say their main concern was that the man could be suffering from hypothermia since he had been in 54 degree water for over two hours. 

Firefighters are still unsure why the young man decided to dig a trench in the first place. 



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