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Workers Fall Into Hole At Water Reclamation Plant

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Water Reclamation Plant Fall

Two workers fell into a settling tank Thursday morning at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Plant on the city’s Far South Side. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 04/21/11 3:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – It took him almost a year to get back to work.

Now, a southwest suburban construction worker is battling brain injuries suffered on the job in an early morning construction accident.

Two workers are in the hospital after falling down a hole just after 7:30 a.m. at the Calumet Water Reclamation District Plant, at 400 E. 130th St., where a major construction project is underway.

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, one of the workers, Jeff Andrews, 50, got this job after trying for months to find work in a soft economy.

“We’re all very close and we can’t lose him; we can’t lose him,” said Andrews’ sister, Tammy Booe. “For crying out loud, he hasn’t worked in 10 months. He’s a cement man and there hasn’t been work for him.”

Andrews is fighting to recover from serious head injuries suffered after he fell into a muddy hole 20 feet deep.

“They’re just allowing the family to go back there now, but he is sedated,” said Andrews’ other sister, Megan Charniak. “And he has multiple brain injuries, skull fractures, tubes in his lungs and he’s on a ventilator.”

Doctors want to perform surgery, but are waiting for Andrews’ condition to stabilize.

Firefighters say Andrews was at the top of a ladder, when he slipped and fell atop a co-worker, who was at the bottom.

Paramedics administered advanced life support, and brought in a special rig called a “stoke basket” to lift the men out of the hole.

Andrews was airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where his five siblings are gathering to watch, support and pray.

“He needs a lot of prayer,” said Booe. “He needs a lot of prayer. If God wants to leave him alone, leave him with us, it would be good.”

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff described just how the accident took place.

“One was at the top of the ladder (and) slipped. It was very muddy back there. It was clay; it was very slippery,” Hoff said. “He slipped and took a fall down the ladder. He just grazed off the other individual.”

The second injured worker has not been identified.

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