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Man, nearly completely covered, rescued from trench in South Dakota

Emergency crews load a man who spent 30 minutes trapped under dirt and debris following a trench collapse into an ambulance Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Emery, S.D. Caitlynn Peetz / Forum News Service1 / 5
People watch as a helicopter prepares to land to pick up and transport a man who spent 30 minutes trapped under dirt and debris following a trench collapse Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Emery, S.D. Caitlynn Peetz / Forum News Service2 / 5
Emergency crews load a man who spent 30 minutes trapped under dirt and debris following a trench collapse into an ambulance Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Emery, S.D. Caitlynn Peetz / Forum News Service3 / 5
The scene of a trench collapse that left a man trapped for 30 minutes under dirt and debris Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Emery, S.D. Caitlynn Peetz / Forum News Service4 / 5
A helicopter prepares to land to pick up and transport a man who spent 30 minutes trapped under dirt and debris following a trench collapse Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Emery, S.D. Caitlynn Peetz / Forum News Service5 / 5

EMERY, S.D. — A man spent 30 minutes trapped under dirt and debris following the collapse of a trench before being rescued Tuesday morning in Emery.

The man, who was not identified by authorities but is not from the area, was working on a water and sewer replacement project at 9:56 a.m. near the intersection of North Third Street and Fifth Avenue when a trench collapsed, completely covering him.

"His hand was sticking out but he was completely covered besides that," said Emery Fire Chief Brian Leitheiser. "The guys from the company dug him out and they did an excellent job — a big difference-maker. It could have been a lot worse."

The extent of the man's injuries are unknown at this time, but Leitheiser said he was conscious, talking to responders and able to move.

A crew of approximately eight men from a Fort Pierre, S.D.-based construction company and one emergency medical technician worked to dig the man out, clearing his head in about five minutes, Hanson County Sheriff Brandon Wingert said. It took crews nearly 30 minutes to completely uncover him.

The quick work of the construction workers likely saved the man's life, Leitheiser said.

Once dug out of the rubble, the man was loaded into a Mitchell Ambulance and moved a block to the east, to the city's baseball field and park, where he was picked up by a helicopter and transported for treatment.

Hanson County Emergency Manager Kevin Kayser said it is unclear what caused the trench to collapse, but weather "probably had a lot to do with it."

"There's no real answer, but everything is kind of wet and when things are wet, this kind of stuff just happens," Kayser said, adding responders handled the stressful situation well. "Adrenaline was high, and it was a bad deal, but the Emery responders did a terrific job."

No other injuries were reported.

The Emery Fire Department, Hanson County Sheriff's Office, Mitchell Fire and Rescue, Hanson County Emergency Management and Avera Care Flight responded to the scene.

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