PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — He was nearly buried alive after a trench collapsed on top of him, but on Tuesday night, a Gresham man shared his incredible story of survival.
"It makes me appreciate things more. It does," said Danny Russu.
Russu was part of a three-man crew replacing a broken sewer main at a home on Southwest Bowmont Street on March 4.
He was digging in the trench when it suddenly collapsed all around him.
"I kind of took a second to realize what was happening, and I tried to see if I could get out, but I couldn't," said Russu.
"I started praying and praying, and I had a thought in my head: 'I can't believe I'm dying, I'm so young.'"
Russu's co-workers with Apollo Drain & Rooter called 911 and then rushed to dig him out.
They were able to pull him out to his shoulders, enough so he could breathe again. But his legs were stuck tight under thick walls of dirt.
The mud, Russu said, was pulling his legs in opposite directions.
"It felt really, really long, and I would breathe and then thoughts would come to my mind, 'Am I going to lose my legs?'" said Russu.
"I would try to help crews dig and then they'd say, 'Take it easy, take it easy. We will get you out of this.'"
After terrifying minutes turned into agonizing hours, crews finally hoisted Russu to stable ground.
"It was a very big relief. I was finally out, and I just started getting felling back in my legs," said Russu.
Russu miraculously did not break any bones, but he said the muscle damage in his legs was so severe he needed surgery.
Most of the blood vessels in his eyes also popped from the pressure he endured in the trench, but fortunately he says it did not affect his eyesight.
He spent two weeks in the hospital, but was released over the weekend.
He's alive, and thankful. Above all else, he says, that's what matters.
"I'm very very thankful for God, to the fire department, to my co-workers Ryan and Brad. I'm very thankful to everyone for helping me," said Russu.