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Rescuers free worker in collapsed trench in Hudson Oaks

It took 66 rescue workers from 21 organizations to free a utility worker who was trapped about 8 feet below the surface when a construction trench collapsed Friday, an official said.

Christopher Abernathy was taken by helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital after being trapped under a pile of asphalt for almost three hours, Hudson Oaks Fire Chief Pat English said.

"He was digging a trench and it just fell in," English said. "It was a miracle that he fell into a void."

Abernathy was working on North Oakridge Drive near U.S. 180.

Rescue workers gave him oxygen through a hole a few feet from his head, English said.

"He never lost consciousness, remained calm and was cutting jokes, which gave us a great sense of his mental awareness," English said.

Workers had to carefully dig from both sides of the trench to free him, English said.

"We couldn't risk moving the huge piece on top of him because it could have crushed him," he said.

Abernathy was a contract worker and did not work for the city of Hudson Oaks, according to a statement from city administrator Robert Hanna.

The trench where the worker was trapped is near a Wal-Mart store in Hudson Oaks, Haltom City Fire Chief Wes Rhodes said Friday afternoon.

Staff writers Alex Branch and Domingo Ramirez contributed to this report.