Waymon L. Halsell, 30, operating engineer, helped to rescue Leslie O. Stafford, 46, laborer, from a cave-in, Bakersfield, California, January 6, 1959. When a cave-in of sandy soil caused the steel cribbing of an excavation four feet in diameter to collapse while he was working near the bottom, Stafford was completely buried with his head five feet beneath the top of the debris, which was seven feet below ground level. Firemen and others, including Halsell, inserted steel casing four feet in diameter in the top of the excavation and from inside the cylinder dug out sand until they uncovered Stafford’s head two feet below the casing. His body had been bridged by a section of the collapsed cribbing, thus protecting him from being crushed or suffocated. Because he feared that sand trickling in below might cause another cave-in as workmen moved in and out of the casing, Halsell remained in the pit alone to aid Stafford. Seating himself with his back below the casing and against the wall of the excavation where the sand was sifting in, Halsell carefully removed sand in a small can from around Stafford and repeatedly filled the bucket of the hoist by which it was removed. As soon as his arms were free, Stafford helped with the digging, although his foot had been pinned by a section of the cribbing and was causing him much pain. The digging was slow because sand continued to trickle into the excavation. It soon created a two-foot hole behind Halsell, who stuffed it with blankets lowered to him. By the time Stafford was uncovered to the waist, Halsell no longer could dig from his position but did not move away from the wall lest a cave-in result. While Halsell held back the sand, Stafford used tools lowered to him to drill a hole in the section of cribbing holding him and then to enlarge the hole with a hack saw. Halsell aided by changing the bits and blades, which broke frequently. After a rope had been lowered to each man and tied around him, a hoist hook was engaged in the hole Stafford had made in the cribbing, and it was lifted just enough to free his foot. Halsell then lifted Stafford onto his thighs, from where he stepped into the hoist bucket and was raised from the excavation. Halsell was drawn out by the rope. Stafford was hospitalized two weeks. Halsell, who had been in the excavation more than eight hours, was treated for exhaustion. Both men recovered.
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