As I left for work on the morning of October 4th 2002, little was different in my daily routine other than the wedding ring I had now been wearing on my finger for six days. In my current position as a laborer I was tasked with installing water lines in a rural setting. Though the work was difficult it gave me a sense of accomplishment and well being as I knew I would be able to provide well for both my wife and myself. At the age of 27 I felt as though my hard work was well rewarded with an hourly wage of over twenty dollars per-hour. Things changed quickly later that afternoon.
Working in a trench roughly six feet deep I crouched down near the pipe our crew had been laying. Without warning the sides of the trench collapsed, completely engulfing me with a crushing sensation. Immediately a sense of panic set in as I fully realized what had happened. Panic soon gave way to fear, as I realized the breaths I was taking were becoming more labored. Fear soon subsided as well replaced this time with a sense of warmth and well-being. As my concern with the situation lessened, I felt even more at ease; I was dying.
The remainder of the five man crew on site immediately had to make difficult decisions when the trench collapsed. Our backhoe operator took the top 2 feet of soil off immediately, but left the rest of the digging to be performed by hand out of fear of injuring me further. Roughly ten minutes later I was uncovered, completely blue with no signs of life. As the ambulance was on it’s way my coworkers began CPR as I was still somewhat buried. The ambulance crew continued CPR and eventually evacuated me by helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. There Doctors informed my wife, family, and friends who had gathered that despite their best efforts I may not live, and if I did I would likely have severe brain damage. One-by-one loved ones filed into my hospital room to pay what they thought would be their last respects. As family members comforted my wife, a delivery was being made to the now vacant accident site. The contractor I was employed by was dropping off a trench box that was not previously available to us. It was approximately 4pm, there same time I was supposed to be leaving for my honeymoon.