Hoip D. Swaby helped to save John P. Kanash and Kenneth H. Schofield from drowning, Fall River, Massachusetts, October 19, 2007. Tunnel workers Kanash, 49; Schofield, 45; and Swaby, 41, were working at the bottom of a large, 105-foot-deep, vertical shaft when a nearby sewer line that was buried closer to the surface collapsed. It had been raining heavily, and effluent from the collapsed line breached the wall of the shaft, cascaded into it, and rapidly began to fill it. Electric lights inside the shaft went out, leaving the men in almost total darkness as they shouted for help. From ground level, a crane operator lowered a transport cage into the shaft. Swaby maneuvered to it and boarded, but the cage was raised before Kanash and Schofield could get to it. At the surface, Swaby asked for a flashlight, telling coworkers he was returning to the bottom of the shaft for the two other men. Despite massive amounts of water continuing to cascade into the shaft, Swaby rode the cage toward the bottom, where it sank about three feet in the accumulating water before rising somewhat. Seeing light from Swaby’s flashlight, Kanash and Schofield made their way to the cage and boarded it. The cage was immediately lifted to the surface, its occupants uninjured. About 85,000 gallons of water entered the shaft, filling it to the level of the collapsed line.
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