Emergency crews rescue man from collapsed trench in Leawood neighborhood

The scene along Meadow Lane in Leawood after the man had been extricated from a collapsed trench. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

Firefighters from three local fire departments worked for nearly two-and-a-half hours to rescue a man after a trench collapse Friday afternoon in Leawood.

Leawood Deputy Fire Chief Jarrett Hawley says firefighters and paramedics were called to 10318 Meadow Lane at 2:50 p.m. after a worker was trapped in a trench collapse.

Arriving firefighters found the man buried up to his waist.

The man, only identified as being 66-years-old, was conscious and communicating with firefighters throughout the rescue. Johnson County Med-Act paramedics monitored his condition as firefighters worked to extricate him.

“Given the specialty nature of the rescue, a countywide trench rescue task force was activated, pulling in specially trained units from the Olathe Fire Department, Consolidated Fire District No. 2 and Johnson County Med-Act to assist Leawood Fire Department personnel at the scene,” Hawley said in a news release. “Leawood Public Works also sent a vacuum truck and several employees to assist with removing dirt.”

Hawley says the man was part of a crew performing work on a residential sewer line when the collapse occurred.

Joe Odom told reporters that he owns the company doing the work and says the man is his son. Odom, 86, says the hole was about seven feet deep when the dirt caved in, pinning his son against the ladder he was standing on in the hole.

“These types of rescues are very tricky as we have to be very careful not to vibrate the ground in any way and trigger more dirt to collapse,” Leawood Fire Chief Colin Fitzgerald said.

Using the shoring equipment and the vacuum truck, crews were able to free the man from the dirt at about 5:10 p.m.

Johnson County Med-Act transported him to the Overland Park Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

“We’re very fortunate, not only here in Leawood but throughout the county, to have citizens that provide the resources for our departments to be able to purchase and utilize the type of equipment that’s necessary to operate in these types of calls,” Hawley told reporters on the scene after the man’s rescue.

The Leawood codes department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be investigating the collapse to determine what happened and if any safety protocols were violated.

Mike Frizzell is a freelance crime and fire reporter who runs Operation 100 News.