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Update: Rescue crews free man trapped after cesspool collapse

A worker at a construction scene in Riverhead became trapped in a trench when the sand collapsed around a wastewater treatment system that was being installed Friday afternoon, according to Bill Sanok, a Riverhead Fire Department spokesperson.

The man was trapped for more than two hours before being freed around 5 p.m.

Riverhead police said the initial call came in around 3 p.m. A caller reported two men were trapped in the newly dug hole by falling sand. One of the men was able to free himself prior to police arrival. The second man was trapped in waist deep sand.

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said the rescue crew placed plywood around the victim so the ground didn’t cave in on them. They then worked by hand to remove the sand to slowly free the man.

The first responders were bringing oxygen to the man as the rescue unfolded and he was alert and talking throughout, Chief Hegermiller said. The man was suffering from numbness in his legs. He was airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Trench rescue teams from the Selden, Hagerman and Hampton Bays fire departments and Suffolk County police were called in addition to the Riverhead Fire Department. An emergency team from Brookhaven National Lab also assisted.

The scene of the rescue was located at AJ Court, which is part of a new development under construction. More than 100 fire responders were on scene just past 4 p.m. and a rehab tent was set up on Doctors Path for first responders. A large light was set up to illuminate the area as daylight faded.

OSHA was notified and the investigation is still on going.

Photo caption: Police and fire crews at the scene Friday afternoon. (Credit: Rachel Siford)

Rescue crews on scene Friday. (Credit: Rachel Siford)