Aurora rescuers free paving employee stuck in concrete

A paving company employee who was trapped in concrete for more than two hours was freed by Aurora firefighters and has been released from the hospital, authorities said Monday.

The 23-year-old man became stuck in hardening concrete about 9:30 p.m. Friday as he was working to clean a cement hopper at Unilock Chicago Inc. at 301 Sullivan Road, authorities said. Co-workers tried to free him for a half-hour and called 911 when they were unsuccessful.

The first fire crews on the scene also were unable to free the man, who was surrounded by concrete nearly up to his knees.

The Aurora Fire Department then called in its technical rescue team of specially trained personnel. Rescuers worked for nearly two hours to remove the man from the concrete before paramedics took him to a hospital. Authorities said the worker was treated for minor injuries and released.

Technical rescue team members used an air-activated chisel to break up the concrete near the man so his legs could be removed from the substance, Aurora Fire Marshal Javan Cross said. The man remained conscious and was talking throughout the rescue as firefighters stood next to him to ensure the chisel didn’t injure him.

Cross said the worker was trapped in a fast-drying type of concrete used to make paving blocks. The substance cures in about a half-hour, so by the time firefighters arrived, he said they were able to stand on it without getting stuck.

After breaking the man’s legs free from the concrete, Cross said firefighters used a hoist to which the man already was attached to lift him out of the hopper.

Training in knots and rigging of hoists is part of the specialized knowledge that helps the technical rescue team remove people from danger.

Cross said the team is activated about once a year to conduct a rescue such as Friday’s concrete removal operation.