SD firefighter held hand of woman buried under building

Sioux Falls firefighter Dustin Luebke held Emily Fodness' hand as crews used small tools to carefully cut through the mattress that cushioned her from the collapsed ceiling above


Associated Press

SOUIX FALLS, S.D. — One of the first responders who helped rescue a young woman from a building collapse in Sioux Falls that killed a construction worker said he thought of his daughters as he held her hand under the rubble.

Emily Fodness, 22, was trapped for three hours after a downtown building collapsed while being renovated Friday morning.

Emergency crews rescue a woman from a building collapse Friday Dec. 2, 2016 in downtown Sioux Falls. Two people were trapped inside the building, which was undergoing construction at the time of the collapse.
Emergency crews rescue a woman from a building collapse Friday Dec. 2, 2016 in downtown Sioux Falls. Two people were trapped inside the building, which was undergoing construction at the time of the collapse. (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader via AP)

Sioux Falls firefighter Dustin Luebke held Fodness' hand as crews used small tools to carefully cut through the mattress that cushioned her from the collapsed ceiling above. Luebke spoke to Fodness, even though he couldn't see her through the rubble.

Luebke said he thought that if one of his daughters was in Fodness' situation, he'd hope that someone would hold her hand.

"I grabbed onto her hand, and I said, 'Emily, I've got your hand. I've got your hand. We've got you now. We're not going to let go. We're coming to get you,'" Luebke said.

Fodness was lying in her bed when the floor fell in. Once trapped under the rubble, Fodness called her mother, who arrived at the scene immediately. Fodness was able to provide directions of where she was in the debris, which was instrumental to her rescue.

The same could not be said of former marine and construction worker Ethan McMahon, 24, who was killed in the incident. McMahon and his brother, who made it out of the wreckage, were working when the 100-year-old building collapsed around them.

John McMahon, the 24-year-old's father, said he went to the building after realizing it was the site his two sons were working at.

"When they brought him out of the rubble, they turned the camera off and let me come up there to get him, and say goodbye, and the first thing I told him is I got your kids, I'll watch 'em," John McMahon said.

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2021 FireRescue1. All rights reserved.