Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Man trapped under 5 tons of quartz slabs rescued in Largo

LARGO — Rescue personnel from Largo, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg and Clearwater on Monday freed a man trapped under 10 sheets of quartz that weighed approximately 1,000 pounds each.

The accident occurred at Pelican International, a sink and granite distributor at 6140 Ulmerton Road.

Sergio Alvarez, an employee of the business, was airlifted to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. It appeared that he did not have any broken bones or life-threatening injuries, "but injuries from a crushing accident sometimes take time to identify,'' said Keith Hatten, acting division chief for Largo Fire and Rescue.

The accident occurred while Alvarez was unloading the quartz from a shipping container, rescuers said.

"There was a crew working with him, but he was the only individual on the inside when it fell together. He screamed out and they called 911," Hatten said.

The quartz first dislodged when Alvarez released one of the pallets to unload it, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the incident along with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Alvarez remained conscious throughout the 45-minute ordeal. To get him to safety, the rescue crew separated the layers of quartz with airbags.

"He did complain of shortness of breath and numbing in his lower extremities," said Hatten. "Once the pile was spread apart, he was good enough to crawl out by himself."

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