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Father grateful son is alive after trench collapse in Leawood

Leawood Trench Collapse Rescue June 2022
Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 23:21:02-04

LEAWOOD, Kan. — A father is grateful on Friday after dozens of first responders rescued his son when a trench collapsed.

It was the longest afternoon for 86-year-old Joe Odom, as he waited on firefighters to rescue his son.

"I was praying the whole time," Odom said. "You know because when that dirt gets ready to fall, it just goes 'bloop!' And that's it."

It all began while the father and son repaired a sewer line at a home on the 10300 block of Meadow Lane.

"He was just digging the pipe out so he could cut a piece of it out to repair the offset in the line," Odom said. "We had dug it out with the machine, and he was down there digging it out by hand."

That's when Odom says his 66-year-old son got buried waist-deep in dirt pinning him against the ladder he used to climb down.

"Well, we went down and start digging him out," Odom said. "But he was in pain and he didn't want to wait till we dug him out."

Crews from the Leawood Fire Deparment, Consolidated Fire District No. 2 and the Olathe Fire Department descended on Meadow Lane.

"My wife texted me this afternoon a couple photos when I was still at work, and I didn't realize how many people were really here," Ryan Ulrich, a neighbor said. "But to show up with well over 100 people in the yard was pretty, pretty remarkable."

Besides providing additional manpower, the Olathe Fire Department brought in special "speed shoring" equipment that involves wooden boards and steel that prevent the walls from caving in.

"There's a number of technician level resources come from neighboring departments just to make sure that as we rotate through and do our work, that we can do that continuously," Jarrett Hawley, deputy chief with the Leawood Fire Department, said.

Rather than using buckets to remove dirt around Odom's son, crews suctioned it out and got him out safely almost two hours later.

Paramedics took him to the hospital to get checked out.

"I'm real grateful. I was worried to death," Odom said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be notified of the incident.