Apollo Beach, FL -- The construction worker, whose dramatic rescue was captured on live TV Thursday was released from the hospital and was home Friday recovering with his grateful family.
Rescue workers describe it as a worst-case scenario with a best-case ending.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue workers train to save victims from dire situations, but on Thursday they say the challenges were relentless.
There was soil giving way. Rising water. High pressure water lines on the verge of rupturing.
"And of course, welcome to Florida, it was all off-road so all our vehicles got stuck so the guys had to carry all the heavy equipment down to the site for the operation," said Capt. Clint Roberts.
For three hours, the construction worker who'd fallen into the collapsed ditch oscillated between calm and sheer panic, says Roberts, who tried to establish a conversation with the man.
Roberts and the other rescuers spoke English. The victim spoke Spanish. But they shared a common language of trust.
"And that relationship begins to form and you make a promise to that person that no matter what we're gonna get you out of here," said Roberts.
At times, rescue workers admit they were not sure how it would end.
The trench was filling with water, the walls were threatening to collapse, and the weight of heavy, chest-high mud was squeezing the air out of the man's lungs.
"It's almost like a snake," said Roberts. "Every time you exhale or inhale, it closes in and squeezes tighter."
Rescue workers, infusing a balanced mixture air and water, finally loosened the mud enough to pull the man out. They overcame several hurdles, including that language barrier.
"Universally, a big smile, and somebody patting you on the shoulder and giving you a thumbs-up – you know you did the right thing," said Roberts.
Later this afternoon, 10 News received a statement from the Sarasota Construction Company the man works for.
"We at Deme Construction are extremely thankful that all of our employees are home safely with their families. We would like to extend a special appreciation to the first responders who aided in the safe rescue. We would also like to extend our appreciation to all of the fellow contractors who came together to ensure his safe return home! We are currently reviewing our safety policies to see if any changes can be made to avoid this or any other related situations in the future. We will keep you posted with updates, we ask that everyone respect the crews wish and that their privacy as well as anonymous status remain intact."
A construction worker trapped in a water-filled hole is pulled to safety.