WILDWOOD — A house-lifting worker, on his first week on the job, was injured Wednesday and taken by helicopter to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Trauma Unit in Atlantic City after part of a waterfront home collapsed.
The city Fire Department responded at 11:17 a.m. to a home being lifted in the 600 block of West Rio Grande Avenue.
Chad Hack, operations manager for SJ Hauck Movers, said two workers were at the scene pulling together the house and bolting the beams to the piling.
Fire Chief Daniel Speigel said a beam from the home struck a worker in the head, which caused him to fall into the water. He was held underwater for about 15 minutes by a chain wrapped around his leg. However, at a depth of 1 to 2 feet, only the lower half of the man’s body was submerged, Speigel said.
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Firefighters got in the water and used bolt cutters to remove the chain from the man’s leg. Paramedics on the scene treated the man, who was not identified pending notification of family, before transferring him to the trauma unit.
Hack said Wednesday’s accident was the company’s first that sent an employee to the hospital.
“What we do is dangerous, but we haven’t had anything like this,” said Hack. “We’ve lifted 1,000 houses since Sandy.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the inside of the house was exposed by the collapsing floor, which was still hanging underneath the already raised house.
“It’s been raised up quite a bit,” said Fred Uhlman, 66, of Wildwood Crest, manager at nearby No Bones Bait & Tackle. “It’s an old house. I thought they would have just torn it down.”
Ulhman said he popped out of the bait shop to see what happened after emergency vehicles began heading down the dead-end street.
“I think it took them 45 minutes to get him out of there,” Ulhman added.
The victim’s condition was not released.
Engine Company 38, Wildwood Rescue Company 3, North Wildwood Engine 2 and Cape May County’s Regional Urban Search Team responded.
Staff Writer Jack Tomczuk contributed to this report.