Man critical following trench accident on Meridian Road in Grosse Ile

Grosse Ile DPW worker James Farrell trapped while trying to repair broken water main

GROSSE ILE, Mich. - A construction accident which has led to a 56-year-old man being trapped in a trench shut down part of Meridian Road in Grosse Ile shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday.

James Farrell was part of a team working on a broken water main. Two volunteer firefighters worked frantically to try to rescue the man from the trench - digging the heavy soil with their hands.

Farrell, an employee of the Grosse Ile Department of Public Works, was transported by a University of Michigan Survival Flight helicopter to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where he is listed in critical condition with life threating injuries. He is alive tonight, because of the quick actions of his co-workers, who happen to have firefighter training.

The four men work crew started the day working on a small water main break on Meridian Road. The men dug a 20-foot long, 12-foot deep trench.

Three of the workers jumped into the muddy trench to start repairs, and then the walls caved in on them. Two men were able to free themselves, but Farrell was buried over his head.

The workers immediately started digging him out.

"They immediately put a pump in there to try and get the water, that it wasn't going over his head," said Grosse Ile Police Chief Joseph Porcerelli. "One firefighter who is a DPS worker, was trying to hold his head above the water."

It took 14 minuets to free Farrell from the hole, and an ambulance rushed him to a sub-division where the helicopter was waiting.

It is still unclear if the workers were following all safety procedures and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is now investigating the accident.

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