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Tunnel collapses, traps Price youth

By Sun Advocate

For several local youth, the playing in dirt pastime turned dangerous last Sunday afternoon as the friends were digging tunnels at Mead’s Wash in north Price.
According to Price Police Officer Bill Barnes, at approximately 3:50 p.m. on May 18 several young male subjects were apparently constructing a tunnel system when the youth noticed that the sides were cracking.
Chris and Mike Hutchings, Brady Hanson, Levi Graff, Lincoln Dinkins and Panther Prettyman were digging at the site when Graff noticed the cracking. All the youth managed to safely exit the tunnel except Hanson.
A local resident had spotted the young children and apparently decided the area was dangerous.
In an effort to protect the youth, Patrick Bailey traveled to the police department to notify an officer of the potential danger the children were facing by playing in the tunnel system.
After Bailey had relayed the information to officer Barnes, an emergency broadcast came over the airwaves from the Price dispatch center.
A Price resident had phoned the emergency center and reported that a cave-in had occurred at the wash location and that one young subject was completely buried by dirt.
Barnes immediately responded to the scene of the cave-in mishap.
Once the Price city officer arrived, he reportedly discovered 14-year-old Hanson buried in approximately four feet of dirt.
The youth who exited the tunnel along with the victim’s father, James Hanson, and local resident Scott Burgess were all working to free the trapped teenager.
According to eyewitnesses, Hanson was completely buried by the dirt, with the exception of one elbow.
The teen’s friends and family members were able to uncover Hanson’s face, which was caked with dirt by the time the rescue crews arrived at the scene.
One major problem encountered by rescuers was the fact that the surrounding dirt continued to fall onto the trapped child.
Due to the situation, the main focus of the rescue attempt was to keep Hanson’s face uncovered and prevent the youth from being smothered by the falling dirt.
After securing the immediate area around the teenager’s face, the rescue and emergency personnel systematically removed dirt from the top of the pile, pointed out Barnes.
Within minutes, the rescue and emergency crew members were able to free the young victim.
After the teen was freed, Carbon County ambulance personnel stabilized the youth and transported the victim to Castleview Hospital where he was treated and released.
Later that evening, Hanson was reportedly admitted to an Orem hospital with severe pain.
The hospital’s medical staff determined that the youth had incurred a vertebrae stress fracture due to the pressure of the dirt.
Prior to leaving the accident scene at Meads Wash, rescue and fire personnel demolished the cave and tunnel system to eliminate potential dangers to Carbon County residents.
After the rescue operation was successfully completed, Barnes was informed that the youth were contacted by Price police earlier in the day and warned to discontinue using the tunnel.
“Many times, children will find themselves in a situation like this and they will get scared and run. These kids didn’t, though,” indicated Barnes.
“Instead, they located their friend who was completely buried and began to dig him out while another boy ran for help. The quick response and hard work on the part of the two residents were also crucial in the excavation of Hanson,” noted the law enforcement official.
The Price police officer credited rescue crews for their quick response and exceptional effort which helped to save the teenager’s life.
“Quick response time on the part of the local rescue crews was critical in this incident,” concluded Barnes.

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