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VRFA Crews Rescue Man Trapped Under Collapsed Retaining Wall

At 10:33 am Monday morning Valley Regional Fire Authority was dispatched to Kersey Way SE for a man trapped under a collapsed section of a retaining wall.  The site is a construction zone, associated with the current build for Auburn School District’s Bowman Creek Elementary School.

In addition to the VRFA Technical Rescue Team, technical rescue specialists from South King Fire & Rescue, Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority and King County Medic One Paramedics responded to the call.

“The 40-year-old male,” a construction worker with Transportation Services, “was buried to his waste, but conscious and talking when we arrived at 10:40 am,” said VRFA  Public Information & Education Officer Kimberly Terhune.

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a 1,4000 Pound block from a collapsed retaining wall | courtesy, VRFA

“Crews shored the dirt and rock, and an excavation operator on-site assisted with removing a 1,400-pound block that was impeding the rescue,” said Terhune. Once the block was removed he was placed on a backboard and carefully slid out of the trench.

King County Medic One Paramedics monitored the patient as crews worked to remove the block.  Paramedics immediately treated the patient upon his removal, including warming him to stave off hypothermia.  Hypothermia was a concern from both environmental conditions, as well as any potential injuries that may cause a lack of circulation needed to warm his body.

The man was transported by King County Medic One to Harborview Medical Center, in stable condition.

Labor and Industries are expected to be out to the worksite tomorrow to begin their investigation of the accident.

The construction company handling the Bowman Creek Elementary School build is Absher.  CEO Dan Absher confirmed an independent investigation into the accident is being conducted.  Until the investigation is completed that portion of the worksite will remain closed.

“We want to ensure everything is in safe working conditions before anyone else is out there working,” said Absher.

As this section of the Bowman Creek Elementary School project is not directly connected to the physical school building, Absher stated he does not believe there will be any impact on the project’s completion timeline.

The primary concern for Absher is the safety and wellbeing of the worker who was injured today and all of their employees and subcontractors.

Absher shared the man remains in stable condition at Harborview and is continuing to be evaluated.  For privacy reasons, he could not share any further medical information.  The man’s family is with him.



  1. Sean Sean February 13, 2020

    This was built by KLB, not by Absher.

    • Elizabeth Miller Elizabeth Miller Post author | February 13, 2020

      Hi Sean –
      Absher is the main company overseeing the whole project. You are correct that KLB is the subcontractor handling this portion of the project.

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