Man narrowly escapes crushing mishap during lift station installation
Posted by : February 7, 2013| On :
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–A long awaited new sewer tank lift station installation nearly ended in tragedy Monday in the Loon Bay Subdivision.
The Monitor was on hand to photograph the setting of a 6,000-pound fiberglass cylinder into a 12-foot deep hole on Shady Grove, when the unthinkable happened.
A man standing atop the tank, lying on its side over the hole to readjust the chains holding it suspended from a Deere trackhoe, began to lose his balance when the tension on the chains shifted.
He fell about 25 feet into the bottom of the hole, and then the tank came down after him with a deafening crash.
Crew members from Duplichain Contractors out of Alto, Texas, moved quickly to extract company owner Greg Duplichain, 64, from the pit.
His son, Jeff, and another crew member gave directions to the trackhoe operator to manipulate his bucket for several attempts at raising the fallen man from the hole.
In the meantime, a worker from East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District called 9-1-1 for assistance.
The sound of the crash brought neighbors out of their homes, one of them Linda Baker, a trained medical technician with Payne Springs Fire Rescue. She peered into the pit, asking questions of the injured man and ready to offer assistance once he was gotten out of the hole.
After agonizing minutes, the bucket was raised, hoisting the injured man gently to the surface, where First Responders were ready with first aid.
Duplichain’s injuries included two broken ankles and a dislocated shoulder.
Tuesday, word was received that he had been released from a hospital in Tyler with crutches for a couple of weeks and an appointment to return to insert pins into his ankles.
Once secured for transport, the crew, under the direction of son Jeff Duplichain, went back to work to reset the tank securely into the hole.
A concrete truck arrived to seal the area and final adjustments were being made Tuesday to make the new Lift Staion No. 3 operable.
For those witnessing the brush with death, anxious prayers and a sense of relief accompanied the event.
More photos of the operation and rescue can be found in the February 7, 2013 issue of The Monitor.