Worker trapped in sewer tells of 9-hour ordeal

June 15, 2011 3:06:10 PM PDT
Joe Hranicka can't believe he's alive. After he tumbled more than twenty feet through an open manhole, his eye socket is shattered and both his wrists are broken along with two of his ribs.

Joe had been in this truck, sweeping the parking lot of a vacant strip mall. He moved a sheet of plywood blocking his path, entirely unaware it was covering the manhole.

"I lifted up the wood and it was pretty much right in front of me. So I took the step that I didn't see what was in front of me and there was this big hole that I didn't see. I went right down", Hranicka said.

He remained trapped inside for nine hours before Tim Eareckson rode past on his bicycle and heard Joe's screams.

"I thanked him when I was there. I wanted to compensate him but I'm living paycheck to paycheck so I don't know what to do for him. He saved my life pretty much," Hranicka said.

Joe is grateful tonight, but insists it never should have happened.

"They should have roped it off, put up cones, some kind of warning you know. Cause it blended in pretty much with the other things around," Hranicka said.