Sidewalk collapse kills Seminole worker; firefighters injured during rescue attempt

Firefighters in stable condition

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A Seminole County worker was killed when a sidewalk collapsed in the Lake Mary area and three firefighters were left injured during the rescue efforts, according to the Seminole County Fire Rescue.

The incident was reported at about 10:40 a.m. on the 200 block of Chiswell Place.

“We need help getting the sidewalk off of him,” a witness said in a 911 call, adding that the man was stuck between the sidewalk and the water main.

Seminole County Fire Chief Otto Drozd said when firefighters arrived, a vacuum truck was removing water from the hole where the man was stuck but then it was shut off so that firefighters could begin their rescue efforts.

Drozd said the man was a worker from the county’s environmental services department who was working on a water main leak within the trench when the accident happened.

He was identified Friday afternoon as Tomasz Sajkowski, a utilities operations distribution mechanic.

“When they got in the hole trying to extricate the patient with the jaws of life to lift the sidewalk, that’s when the hole was electrically charged, electrocuting the three firefighters, causing some injuries that were later evaluated at the hospital,” Drozd said.

He said due to the nature of the collapse, the ground and sand were constantly shifting and water was filling up the hole.

A witness who called 911 said the water had already been turned off so what was leaking was the residual water from the main. He also said the Sajkowski was about six feet deep in the hole.

Three firefighters involved in the confined space rescue were taken to an area hospital to be treated for possible electrical shock. They are all conscious, alert and in stable condition.

Seminole County Fire Rescue officials said the investigation into what happened is in the early stages.

Sajkowski was a husband and father who had been working for the county since November 2019.

“He was an experienced utilities professional, a valued team member, and above all, a dedicated husband and father of two beautiful children. Our most heartfelt condolences, thoughts, and prayers are extended to the Sajkowski family and friends,” the county said in a news release.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating.

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