Man killed in basement collapse…

Excavator falls into basement during Tulsa school demolition

A man died during the demolition of Tulsa’s old Mark Twain Elementary School Friday.

He was operating an excavator when the ground gave way and it fell into a basement below. It created a very dangerous situation for rescue crews, who had to work slowly to recover the driver.

Construction crews for Ark Wrecking went from tearing down the old school into a frantic rescue mode, but there was nothing they could do to save their co-worker. Tulsa Fire Department Captain Hubert Rouse, “There was a false basement maybe the operator was not aware of and it collapsed on him.”

The operator was using an excavator to remove debris that demolition crews created. He was on the first floor of the school, which was made of concrete. The basement underneath had been converted into classrooms at some point and the concrete gave way. The track hoe and the driver in the cab fell with it; he was trapped and crushed by heavy rock and concrete.

The excavator stopped about three feet from the basement floor and was hanging precariously, making it tough on the rescue workers. Fire Captain David Umfleet, “What makes it more dangerous is they started demolition, and injure rescuers.”

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