Four injured in SR 99 tunnel project after wall collapse, 25-foot fall

SEATTLE -- Emergency crews were called to the northern part of the SR 99 tunnel project Thursday after four people were injured in an accident at the construction site.

The men were hurt on the project around 1:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Aurora Avenue North when a portion of an elevator wall they were standing on collapsed, sending them 25 feet to the ground, Seattle Fire Spokesperson Kyle Moore said.

Three of the injured workers crawled their way out of the pit, Moore said. Another required rescue from the Seattle Fire Department, and he was carried out on a gurney. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center.

The three other workers that managed to crawl their way out were also transported to Harborview, but only suffered minor injuries. All four of the patients were men, ages 23, 29, 31 and 36.

The patients were all listed in satisfactory condition suffering injuries to the arm, back and neck, according to Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Susan Gregg.

Firefighters said the rescue took quite some time, as emergency workers said the walk to the accident scene was a quarter-mile long. Moore called the fall "significant."

It was unknown if the wall's collapse would cause a long delay in construction of the SR 99 tunnel, or potentially affect the ground around the site. The Washington State Department of Transportation released this statement late Thursday afternoon:

"This afternoon, five workers were installing rebar for a concrete wall at the tunnel's north portal work zone. The wall of rebar gave way, injuring four of the five workers. The injured workers were transported to Harborview Medical Center for evaluation. Emergency procedures were followed throughout the incident. Seattle Tunnel Partners is thankful for the Seattle Fire Department’s assistance in evacuating the injured workers to Harborview."

For months the world’s largest tunnel-boring machine has been damaged and sitting idle underneath Seattle. Setbacks have plagued the multibillion-dollar project.

In January, contractors completed a 120-foot deep access pit to reach the damaged machine.

Once contractors reach Bertha, they will replace the machine’s damaged cutter head and try to get it digging again.

Stay with Q13 FOX for updates on this breaking news.