Mo. FF Thought Sewer Rescue Would Be Recovery

The firefighter who found the injured worker said that after two hours of searching for the man he thought he would be recovering a body instead of finding the man alive.

RAYMORE, Mo. --

The firefighter who found the injured worker said that after two hours of searching for the man he thought he would be recovering a body instead of finding the man alive.

"It always feels good to save anyone's life," said firefighter Antonio Smith, who was one of a group of firefighters who desperately checked one manhole after another for any sign of the worker who had been swept away by a strong current.

Smith said he had already lifted two manhole covers when he heard the worker's plea come from under the ground.

"We walked over the metal grate and I guess he heard our footsteps," Smith said. "He said, 'Guys, I'm down here. Please help me.'"

The 27-year-old man from the Lake of the Ozarks was in the fetal position, barely hanging on. Emergency workers said the man was working on repairing some pipes near 58 highway and Sunset Lane when something went wrong and he was trapped in the pipe. The powerful flow of raw sewage ended up pushing him nearly a mile and half away near the Creekmoor Golf Course.

"We asked him if he could walk and he was pretty weak," Smith said. "I grabbed onto the ladder and made a decision to go in the hole and get him."

Smith put the man over his shoulder and carried him out. He said he was pleased to hear the man’s first words.

"He told us he wanted a few weeks off of work, and that his wife would be mad at him," Smith said. "He still had humor in him."

The man was taken by air ambulance to an area hospital. Smith said he hopes the worker will survive his injuries.

"I hope his wife is not mad at him," Smith said. "I hope and his boss gives him a few weeks off and he pulls through OK."

The man suffered scrapes and bruises in the accident. The fire chief said the biggest concern is about any raw sewage the man might have in his lungs that could cause an infection.

The man works for a company called Rosetta Construction from Springfield, Mo. The company has a clean safety record with no violations.

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