Man who survived trench collapse: 'I was very close to blacking out'

Danny Russu, 21, of Gresham is home from the hospital and talking for the first time about being trapped in a trench for hours.

The ground caved in around Russu in early March while he was working on a sewer line 12 feet underground in Cedar Hills.

"I'm getting better and better," Russu said Tuesday. "I'm limping less, and I don't feel any pain unless I do certain movements."

Russu is recovering from two surgeries on his right leg, where he has muscle damage, and his eyes are still blood shot after the weight of the dirt caused the blood vessels to pop. He expects to make a full recovery and is thankful to be alive.

Russu says about two minutes before his co-workers dug out his head and chest from the heavy dirt, he wondered if he would make it.

"If they wouldn't have gotten me out when they did, I would have passed out and it might have been really hard to resuscitate me," he said. "They pulled me out at the last second and I kind of came back."

Even though he was still stuck, he "started thanking God I was OK." Russu worried he might lose his legs because of the pain but appreciated the rescuers reassuring him throughout the process.

"They care you know. It's a good feeling," he said, adding that he felt relief when he was pulled to the surface. "I was still in pain, but I was out of the hole."

Russu said he looks forward to getting back to work when doctors give him the green light, and he's even considering going back into a trench.

"That's how I feel right now, I don't know," he said. "If I approach one, maybe I'll have a different feeling."

Russu said he does know he's changed for the better.

"It's matured me a lot, and I see things differently in a way," he said. "Makes me appreciate life more."