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‘Very, very lucky': Ga. first responders save worker trapped in hopper

Technical rescue in Pauling County lasted five hours as firefighters saved a worker buried up to his chest

By Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — A man who fell approximately 20 feet into a Paulding County rock quarry Tuesday was “very, very lucky” to be alive when he was rescued, a fire department spokesman said.

The ordeal lasted a little more than five hours after the man, whose name was not released, fell while working at Wayne Davis Concrete Company, located off Mulberry Rock Road near Dallas.

He was able to speak with rescue workers throughout the process despite being buried up to his chest, Paulding fire Lt. Steve Mapes told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After being rescued, the man complained of back pain and his legs were numb, Mapes said. He also appeared to be hypothermic.

Investigators aren’t sure how the man fell shortly after 9:30 a.m. from the top level of a hopper where rocks are stored at the concrete company. Mapes said the rocks acted almost like quicksand surrounding the man.

Crews from Cobb County assisted with the rescue. One firefighter rappelled down the quarry and spoke with the trapped man, and a Dallas road crew used a device to suck out rocks, Mapes said.

While crews worked to free the man, there were other collapses within the hopper, making the rescue more treacherous.

Shortly before 3 p.m., the man was removed from the quarry and placed in an ambulance. Several paramedics and nurses were waiting to check on him.

“They all met him as soon as the rescuers got him on the ground,” Mapes said.

The man was driven a short distance in the ambulance to a waiting medical helicopter, which was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital.

“He’s very, very lucky,” Mapes said.

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