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Construction worker near death after falling into rock crusher

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A construction worker narrowly escaped death after he fell into a rock crusher this week in Irvine, authorities said Friday.

The man was still alive as of Thursday, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Marc Stone. The worker suffered major head trauma, a broken leg and other injuries during the Wednesday incident in the 8700 block of Irvine Center Drive. Residential units are being built on the site of the former Wild Rivers water park.

It was unclear how the worker, whose name was not released, slipped into the conveyor belt of the machine at about 12:50 p.m. When co-workers heard his screams, they rushed to hit the emergency shut-off button.

“When we arrived, he was unconscious and still inside,” Stone said. “We found him laying on a big bed of rock in what I would say looks like a hopper. I took us about 15 minutes to pull him out.”

The man, in his late 30s, was taken to a nearby hospital. He was working on a machine that recycles large chunks of rebar-laced concrete by moving it through a conveyor belt, crushing it into rocks, then separating the metal from the rocks.

In the final step, the rocks are pulverized into sand. The man was saved just seconds before he entered the final phase of the rock-crushing system, Stone said.

Cal/OSHA will be conducting an investigation of the incident.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

 
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