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Rescue team pulls worker from trench

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A Floyd County Water Department worker was taken to the hospital Tuesday night after he had to be rescued from a trench he became trapped in while working off Shorter Avenue earlier in the day.

The man was identified by his wife, Madison Marie, as 25-year-old Shawn Michael Marie, who has worked with the water department for about two years. He was treated and released from Floyd Medical Center Tuesday night, according to hospital spokesman Dan Bevels.

A massive rescue effort had traffic on Shorter Avenue, just to the west of its intersection with Huffaker Road, down to one lane each in both directions for over three hours from when the 911 call came in at 1:23 p.m. Rome-Floyd County firefighters, Floyd County police and sheriff’s office deputies and public works employees for both the city and county were represented in the over 30-person rescue crew.

According to Rome-Floyd County Fire Department Battalion Chief Gene Proctor:

The man was with a crew doing utility work on the roadside near 2518 Shorter Ave. Tuesday afternoon. There was about a 12-foot deep trench dug with a backhoe and the man was down in it when a bank of dirt slid down onto him. He was trapped from his waist down.

The problem with this area’s dirt — or red Georgia clay — is the large amount of sand content in it, making it unstable when it’s deeply dug into. Since the trench was near the road, Proctor said the vibration from traffic or a big semi-truck could have caused the bank to slide down.

Getting Shawn Michael Marie out wasn’t as simple as just reaching down and pulling him out — it was a slow and methodical process, as the rescuers were particularly concerned with not wanting to harm the trapped individual, explained Proctor.

The weight of the dirt could easily have broken his legs, Proctor said, as it sheered into him. The compression from the dirt could have brought injuries like those suffered by scuba divers, he added.

Firefighters, who were aided by two Georgia Search and Rescue teams, had to shore up the walls of the trench to protect the man as well as personnel down in it with him. Large, flat wooden planks were used to stabilize the walls. Rescue personnel were able to get down to him and keep him hydrated, while providing him oxygen and pain medication — IVs were being run down to him.

A city public works pump truck was used to suck out dirt from the trench, as rescue workers tried to pull away the dirt from the man’s legs. Also, as the rescue team worked, the backhoe had begun to sink into the trench, so a Loyd’s Towing truck was brought in to use its 60-ton rotator to keep it in position.

By around 4:25 p.m. Shawn Michael Marie was pulled from the trench and taken to a waiting FMC ambulance.