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Sunday, July 22, 2012 - Page updated at 07:00 p.m.

Slab falls 6 stories, worker critically injured on UW campus

By Seattle Times staff

A construction worker was critically injured Saturday morning when a giant slab of concrete fell six stories, and trapped him in the cab of his excavator on the University of Washington campus.

Seattle firefighters freed him, and he was taken to Harborview Medical Center. His condition was life-threatening and critical, but improved after he got to the hospital, said Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

The 52-year-old employee of Rhine Construction was tearing down a dormitory in the 1200 block of North Campus Parkway just before 9 a.m. when an 8-inch thick piece of concrete that was 30-feet-by-15-feet fell six stories onto the cab of his excavator. He became trapped between the seat and the window.

The worker was wearing a helmet and was conscious and able to talk to rescuers when they got there. Moore said firefighters used "pretty much every tool we own."

They tried to get to him by every angle, Moore said, cutting off the top of the cab to try to rescue him with a rope, cutting a hole in the bottom to try to reach him from below, and finally cutting off the side of the cab.

About 10:21 a.m., the man was freed from the cab and taken to Harborview.

State and federal workplace-safety agencies were planning to investigate, according to Moore.

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