December 10, 1997 in City

Quick Thinking Saves Man From Death

Associated Press

Quick-acting colleagues and a hard-hat helped save the life of a 27-year-old man who was sucked into a sand hopper, a Maple Valley fire chief says.

The man, who was not identified, was cleaning the hopper, which was clogged with wet sand Monday morning at the Silica Sand Corp. plant here.

“All of a sudden, it unclogged and he basically got sucked in,” fire battalion chief Brad Doerflinger said.

When the sand began flowing, the man’s legs dropped down the hopper but the opening was too small for him to fall into a truck below.

He was stuck, and two feet of sand poured onto his head.

The hardhat the man was wearing gave him a small pocket of air to breathe and also helped co-workers find him, Doerflinger said.

Two co-workers jumped into the hopper and moved enough sand away to cover the man’s face with a rag and keep an airway clear while other employees started removing sand from the hopper.

When fire crews got to the scene, the used medical backboards to shore up the sand while they dug him out.

He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a minor shoulder injury.

“Quick actions and courageous efforts by fellow employees at the scene undoubtedly saved a life today,” Doerflinger said.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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