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Emergency crews rescue heavy equipment operator

By KAREN BASSO
Staff reporter


Tuesday morning started out with a fair share of drama at an industrial accident scene near Wellington.

At approximately 3:48 a.m. on Feb. 12, Dustin Chidester was reportedly moving coal with a D9 Caterpillar when the equipment the 27-year-old man was operating, backed into a hole at the Savage loadout facility.

The heavy equipment fell through a layer of ice into a hole and was buried by coal, with the driver still inside the vehicle.

The only visible sign of the incident was the blade of the D9 Cat poking through the thick layer of coal, according to emergency and law enforcement personnel.

The first responders to the scene included representatives from Price Rescue 1, county ambulance crews, Deputy Rick Anderson and Deputy Eric Liddiard from the sheriff's office.

Emergency personnel attempted to excavate Chidester for hours until the cold winter temperatures overcame the rescue attempts.

The rescue crews at the scene called for assistance at approximately 7:30 a.m. Rescue 5 from Wellington responded to the scene and assisted in the rescue attempt.

After hours of attempting to rescue Chidester, the effort finally prevailed at approximately 9 a.m., when emergency crews lifted the Cat driver out of the coal rubble to safety.

The effort concluded shortly after a crane lowered a fire fighter into the hole . The fireman assisted Chidester in exiting the Cat and grabbing onto the crane's metal line. The crane then lifted the heavy equipment operator to safety.

After Chidester reached safe ground, rescuers were pleased to discover that the man was unharmed in the incident. Chidester was transported to Castleview Hospital to undergo observation, despite the Cat operator's protests.

Throughout the dangerous ordeal, rescue personnel maintained constant contact with Chidester via the radio located inside the cab of the Caterpillar.





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