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Firefighters Rescue Subway Construction Worker Trapped For 4 Hours In The Mud

Updated at 1:06 a.m., March 20, 2013

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There were some tense moments, but early Wednesday morning firefighters finally pulled a trapped Second Avenue Subway construction project worker out of the mud and to safety, after struggling for four hours to free him.

The worker was hoisted out of the subway trench at Second Avenue and 95th Street at 12:41 a.m. He was on a stretcher when a crane pulled him up alongside two rescue workers.

An ambulance was on the scene to take the worker to an area hospital. He was said to be stable and talking, CBS 2 reported.

A short time earlier, the worker was pulled out of the chest-deep mud in the trench after being stuck for hours, 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reported.

Firefighters and paramedics were lined up at street level to receive the worker. Once he arrived, firefighters planned to hose and wash him down, as it was not clear what kind of contaminants may have been in the subway tunnel mud, officials said.

The worker was trapped 75 to 100 feet below grade level in a block-long trench, Sandberg reported.

Just after midnight, the worker's condition was downgraded to serious, and conditions at the scene also deteriorated as the temperature dropped. Firefighters were cutting sheets of plywood at the scene in an effort to shore up the wet, muddy trench, Sandberg reported.

The plywood sheets and two-by-fours were used to dig into the slippery mud in an effort to get the worker out, Sandberg reported.

The rescue effort began around 8:30 p.m., and more than 100 firefighters were sent to the scene.

Three firefighters were injured during the rescue effort – one with a broken hand, and another wheeled away on a stretcher with unspecified injuries. There was no information on the injuries to the third firefighter.

Two of the firefighters were taken to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Sandberg reported.

Firefighters used a ladder that was poised over an open hole in the pavement, trying to rappel down to the worker, Sandberg reported.

By 9:30 p.m., the fire crews had reached the worker successfully and confirmed he was alive, Sandberg reported. But it took more than three hours to get him out of the mud and to the surface.

A Con Edison vacuum truck was dispatched to the scene to remove the debris. Water poured into the tunnel, both due to recent rains and because the tunnel is below sea level, Sandberg reported.

Meanwhile, CBS 2's Derricke Dennis reported the worker was under threat of hypothermia, and was being aided by doctors who had responded to the scene to help.

A doctor and an Emergency Medical Technician were reportedly in the trench with the worker, Sandberg reported.

One physician also said he came straight from his apartment nearby.

"I live right here, and someone said there was a bunch of people or a person trapped down there, so I figured maybe they could use the hand," said Joe Hinchey of Mount Sinai Hospital.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the trapped worker was a private contractor, and not an MTA employee, WCBS 880 reported.

Second Avenue was shut down between 93rd and 99th streets for the rescue effort. The M15 and M96 buses were rerouted.

The Second Avenue Subway project has been hit with numerous problems since it began. Last August, an underground blast at 72nd Street sent chunks of concrete flying three stories into the air. The MTA said steel plates at the blast site were not properly secured. Construction was halted for several days while the MTA adjusted procedures.

And in April of last year, a worker was crushed by a slab of concrete while working in a trench on 86th Street.

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