Nazareth A. Tomasetti rescued Howard Shannon from a cave-in in an excavation, Pittston, Pennsylvania, September 9, 1952. While Shannon, 38, water-line maintenance man, was working at the bottom of a street excavation five feet long, 13 feet deep, and extending two and a half feet from the side of a building, a large section of sand fell from one of the walls; and he was buried to his shoulders as the excavation filled for five feet. Without protection and realizing that additional slides might occur, since the sides had no cribbing, Tomasetti, 42, water line maintenance man, jumped into the excavation. Shoveling sand into a bucket, which repeatedly was drawn to the surface and emptied, Tomasetti in a half an hour uncovered Shannon to the level of his knees. After Tomasetti removed a heavy concrete slab wedged against Shannon’s legs, a cave-in occurred from another side. Tomasetti quickly stepped behind Shannon and, bracing himself against the force of the falling sand, attempted to shield Shannon with his body. Despite Tomasetti’s efforts, Shannon was buried completely to a depth of six inches. The slide lasted two minutes and covered Tomasetti to his shoulders. Freeing his arms, Tomasetti rapidly scooped sand from atop Shannon’s head and uncovered his mouth and nose. Shannon still was conscious. A large crowd gathered at the surface. Separately, two other men jumped into the excavation but because of the limited working space returned to the surface. Using his hands and the shovel, Tomasetti continued to remove the sand surrounding Shannon and himself but was hampered by numerous small slides, which refilled the excavation almost as fast as he could send the sand to the surface. With effort he freed himself and dug away the sand to the level of Shannon’s knees. At Tomasetti’s instruction, large timbers were lowered and placed upright against the walls of the excavation; and cribbing was hurriedly installed. Tomasetti removed the sand around Shannon’s legs, tied a rope securely to his chest, and Shannon was drawn out of the excavation, Tomasetti, who had been in the excavation for an hour and a half, then was pulled to the surface. Shannon’s back was strained, and he had a wrenched knee. He was hospitalized four days. Tomasetti was badly fatigued but recovered. 42663-3810
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Nazareth “Nenno” Tomasetti, 62, of Pittston, Pa., died on July 7, 1973. He was born to Luciano and Zita (Tavaglione) Tomasetti on Feb. 24, 1911, in Yatesville, Pa.
Tomasetti moved to Exeter, Pa., as a young boy and attended St. Cecilia’s parochial school. He lived in Pittston for 35 years, attending Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.
Tomasetti worked for the Pennsylvania Gas and Water Company for 42 years, serving as assistant superintendent at the time of his death. It was during his tenure as a waterline maintenance employee for the company on Sept. 9, 1952, that he rescued a co-worker who became buried to his shoulders in sand during an excavation project.
In January 1953, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awarded Tomasetti the Carnegie Medal for his actions to free the man, who was hospitalized for four days.
Tomasetti was among the notable Pittston residents who were painted in the city’s five-story-high “Inspiration Mural,” which was dedicated in September 2015.
He was buried at St. Rocco Cemetery in Pittston.
(Edited from an obituary provided by the family.)