Two construction workers were trapped under 15 feet of dirt after a trench collapse at a site off of E. Beaver Creek Drive in Powell just after noon on Thursday. 70 responders from Rural Metro Fire, the Knoxville Fire Department and Knoxville Volunteer Trench Rescue Team responded to the scene shortly after the incident.
WVLT News spoke to Rural Metro Captain Jeff Bagwell, who said that the workers were likely trapped while laying utility pipes in the trench. Responders were able to access the hand and wrist of one trapped man immediately but was not able to make contact with the second worker at first. Responders were also able to speak to the first worker, but only in Spanish, which created communication issues.
After over four hours of rescue work, the first worker was freed from the waist up, and responders were able to confirm the second man was conscious. Responders told WVLT News that they were concerned about hypothermia for both workers, but they believe they were able to locate the second person.
Officials updated the condition of the first worker, saying he is in critical condition. Responders sedated the worker after partially freeing him, Bagwell told WVLT News.