Man injured in Cedar Lake trench collapse
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3086 October 11, 2012 12:39PM
Construction equipment sits behind the True Value store, in Cedar Lake on Thursday, October 11, 2012 after a construction worker was buried under the dirt when the trench collapsed. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 13, 2012 6:24AM
A Thursday morning trench collapse seriously injured a man who was working on a stormwater sewer project behind a Cedar Lake hardware store.
The man — 51-year-old Jeff Jillson of Cedar Lake — was working in a 7-foot-deep trench behind True Value hardware store, located at 9708 Lincoln Plaza, when the trench collapsed around him and buried him up to his waist, said Cedar Lake Fire Chief Todd Wilkening. According to Wilkening, the crew from McAllister Excavating Co. wasn’t using a trench box, which is required by OSHA standards. A co-worker jumped in to help but Jillson was having a hard time breathing and experiencing a lot of pain. Wilkening said Fire Department personnel got the call around 9:25 a.m. and they were able to rescue Jillson after about 20 minutes. Jillson was transported to Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point where he was listed in serious condition.
“This man is very lucky to be alive,” Wilkening said. “Usually in this particular case, we’re dealing with a recovery rather than a rescue. You can be buried up to your waist and die because the pressure on your extremities is enormous.”
Wilkening said the crew had a trench box on site but wasn’t using it. The Fire Department notified Indiana OSHA and the town Building Department to investigate the situation. A message left for McAllister Excavating Co. was not returned and workers at the site did not want to comment.
The manager and owner of the True Value hardware store, Jeff Bunge, said the sewer project has been under way for about three weeks. The former Wilco Country Market adjacent to the hardware store was recently demolished to make way for a new Strack & Van Til store.