Man trapped in ditch by mini excavator on South Hill suffers broken arm

May 11, 2019

Firefighters rescued a man after he was pinned in a ditch by a mini excavator he was operating in the backyard of a South Hill house on Saturday.

The man, who has not been identified, was digging a 4-feet deep ditch for a new sewer system at about 2:30 p.m. at 1416 W. 7th Ave., according to Spokane Fire Department Battalion Chief Darin Neiwert. Neiwert said one of the excavator’s tracks slid into the ditch, trapping the man.

The man suffered a broken arm, and may have other injuries, but nothing life threatening, Neiwert said.

Firefighters had to winch the excavator off the man before paramedics could take him to the hospital.

The man didn’t live at the house but was a hired worker, said neighbor Philip Small.

Small works as an independent soil scientist and said people die digging trenches every year. He himself has gotten his foot caught in a soil pit before, he said.

“It happens so fast, there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.

In 2016, 23 people died from collapsing trenches, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Small’s wife, Rosemary Small, said the man looked in bad shape when he was trapped.

“He was so squished and red when he was pinned,” she said.

Philip Small said he suspects a crane will be needed to lift the excavator out of the ditch, however, power lines overhead may pose a challenge.