Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Have you read all the flashback stories? There are now five of them. Be sure to catch them by scrolling down to posts #'s 658, 659, 660 and 661, before they fade into yesterdays mail and complete obscurity...
Job location Kauai, Hawaii:
Building the Keile/Lagoons golf course.
The situation:
I was standing on top of a mound of dirt and watching some heavy equipment working. Scrapers were running by and a large D-9 dozer was back filling a water pipeline nearby. The story evolves around the D-9 dozer back filling the pipeline trench.
You must realize the size of the dozer to really appreciate what was about to happen. This is why I have shown a picture of a D-9 and compared it to the size of a man. This dozer can push 12 cubic yards of material in one swipe, enough to fill a large dump truck in a single push.
What was happening:
One of the supervisors from the company that installed the pipeline was overseeing the back filling operation. For some reason, unknown to the dozer operator, he decided to walk down the trench to inspect a gate valve located on the pipe. Just as the man got to the valve the D-9 shoved the first blade full of back fill material in the trench, the trench was about 12' feet deep and 3' feet wide, a very large ditch. I saw the dirt go in the ditch covering the man up to his neck, and the dozer was coming again with another blade full of back fill which would have completely filled the trench to the top, completely burying the man 6' deep, I was the only one that saw this happening and I was 100' feet away from the machine. I was directly in front of the D-9 so the operator couldn't see me running and waving because the blade is so huge I was in a blind spot for the operator. I had to get to the machine and alert the operator before it got to the trench with the load it was pushing. I had to run beside the D-9 and jump up on it to get the operator to stop. I made it just as the dirt was starting to fall into the ditch, scared the hell out of the operator seeing me jump on his moving dozer. He stopped in the nick of time.
The conclusion:
I had a radio connected to all the construction crews and called for help. You see, even though the mans head wasn't covered his chest was crushed so he couldn't breath. You have never seen a response like the one that happened when I called 'Man Buried' people arrived in seconds and immediately dug out the mans chest with their bare hands. When he could finally breath the tension subsided a bit and heavy equipment could be used to excavate him the rest of the way out. I do remember them pulling him out when he was uncovered to about his knees. When they pulled him out his boots stayed in the ground, and were never recovered. I don't think they would have known he was missing until closing time that afternoon, and would never have had a clue as to where he was. Things can happen very quick around huge pieces of equipment, they don't stop and are unforgiving.
All in a days work, but I was surely in the right place at the right time for that guy....

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