Shrewsbury first responders speak on MSD tunnel rescue


SHREWSBURY, Mo. – There was an intense underground rescue near St. Louis nearly 200 feet down at a wastewater tunnel construction site.   

One worker was injured. 

The site is part of the four-mile MSD Deer Creek project that stretches from Lemay through Shrewsbury to Clayton.   

The site was closed Wednesday after the accident, which was very scary for the injured worker and others who were trapped, plus two Shrewsbury firefighter/paramedics who went down to get most of them out.   

An on-site construction team was able to free the one worker who needed medical care, the firefighters said. He hurt his leg after a 3,000-pound form used to shape concrete fell around 9:30 in the morning.  

The construction team was able to shift the form with a crane and lift him out. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of a non-life-threatening injury, authorities said.  

“There were 3 more people still trapped down below,” said Shrewsbury Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Gray.   

They were safe and not pinned but still trapped by that fallen form.   

“The tunnel that shoots off toward Clayton, they were actually in that tunnel, just in case that concrete form did break free and shoot all the way down,” said Shrewsbury Firefighter/Paramedic John O’Brien.  

Gray and O’Brien got into a large 12-person metal basket. A crane lowered them into the hole. They had radio contact with the trapped men. 

There was daylight plus electric light from the underground construction site to help them see.

Once the team up top was able to lift the form out of the way, firefighters Gray and O’Brien were able to get the workers into the basket. 

About an hour after they responded to the scene, out they came with the workers. Everyone was safe with no serious injuries.   

“Very lucky for sure,” Gray said.  

“I think (the workers) were like, ‘whew, glad we’re out of here’,” O’Brien said. “I think adrenaline actually takes over.  You don’t think about it until you get out and you’re like, ‘wow, that was pretty far down there.’” 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating.   

There was no update early Wednesday evening on the injured worker’s condition or resumptions of work at the site.  

The $150 million project is scheduled for completion in October 2022.

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