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Two Men Overcome By Fumes, Rescued From Sewer

Rescue crews pulled two men from a sewer in Long Grove, after they were overcome by gas fumes while working inside. (Credit: Jon Altenberg/Sun-Times Media)

Rescue crews pulled two men from a sewer in Long Grove, after they were overcome by gas fumes while working inside. (Credit: Jon Altenberg/Sun-Times Media)

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LONG GROVE, Ill. (STMW) – What started as a routine sewer-rodding job became life-threatening Thursday morning, July 11, in Long Grove.

Rescuers from the Long Grove Fire Protection District lifted two incapacitated men out of a sewer at about 12:15 p.m. at the intersection of Old McHenry and Hicks roads.

The pair had been hired by John Urllrich, the Long Grove property owner who lives at 1160 Old McHenry Road, to jet-rod his sewer; but in doing so released a gas strong enough to put their lives in danger. When Urllrich went to check on how the job was going, he found one of the workers unconscious, trapped in the sewer. Ullrich immediately called 911.

According to a report from Chief Robert Turpel, the men were trying to climb out of the sanitary manhole when a gas overpowered them. That gas was hydrogen sulfide, he said — created by the breakdown of the sewage they were rodding out, and now at an intense 120 parts per million.

One of the workers apparently made it to the top of the ladder, but behind him, his co-worker fell back down, apparently from about halfway up; the man at the top climbed back down to help, but was immediately overcome by the fumes. The homeowner saw this struggle and came to their aid, the report reads:

“(The worker climbing back down) became incapacitated on the ladder,” Turpel writes. “The homeowner who had hired the workers to rod his sewer was able to grab and hold onto Victim #1’s arm so he did not fall off the ladder.”

A Lake County deputy arrived and helped hold the man on the ladder; firefighters and police officers pulled him up immediately afterward. An ambulance took him to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

But the second worker remained at the bottom of the manhole, “curled up in a ball,” the report reads.

Wearing breathing equipment, a rescue technician climbed down and attached a rope to the second victim — the crew on the surface then pulled him out. An ambulance took him to Libertyville as well.

Urllrich and the deputy were both examined and released at the scene.

The Lake County Public Works Department and an inspector from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration spent the afternoon examining the scene.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)