Worker survives building collapse

September 22, 2009 (HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.) It all may have come down to a matter of inches.

With the roof of the former Menard's store falling down on top and all around him, the 45-year-old demolition worker got down on the ground and somehow the heavy beams fell on either side of him, keeping the roof suspended about three feet off the ground and keeping him from being crushed to death.

"There was one man trapped inside. Lucky enough to be alive," said Lt. Kevin O'Donnell, Hoffman Estates Fire Department.

" He was fortunate to find a space approximately…three feet tall, 10 foot wide by 20 feet long," said Capt. Pat Fortonato, Hoffman Estates Fire Department.

Crews were in the process of tearing down the building. The workers were inside when the roof, about 30 feet high, collapsed.

"I heard a horrible boom and I felt my house shake. The foundation of the house shook," said Kenny Tiffany, witness.

Co-workers were able to make contact with him almost immediately and firefighters were able to get a radio to him while they put together a rescue operation.

"We were able to communicate with him, secure him to a rope, provide him a light and he was then able to work his way out but is talking to him via the radio," said Fortonato.

Within about an hour they cut a hole through the stabilized portion of the roof and he was able to get out. They loaded him up on an ambulance to be checked out.

An OSHA safety inspector was on the scene making sure it's safe to resume the demolition work.

In the meantime, the worker was brought to St. Alexia's Medical Center in good condition. He was expected to be treated and released.

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