Construction worker recovering after being crushed in excavator

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SEATTLE - The wife of a construction worker who was trapped in the cab of his excavator Saturday while doing demolition work in the U-District told KIRO 7 on Tuesday she predicts he’ll make a full recovery.

Gil Olson remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center, and his family said his recovery could take up to a year and a half.

Olson was working at Lander Hall, an old dorm at the University of Washington that’s being torn down to make way for a new one. Officials said it’s not an unusually hazardous job, but in this case, a chunk of concrete hit something on the way down and moved in a way that no one could predict.

“It was intense, very intense,” said Brandon Olson, Gil’s son who was working at the site with him. “Looked like a pancake. I didn’t think he would – I thought I lost my dad.”

Gil’s other son, Shane Olson, was also there.

A huge 15-foot by 30-foot chunk of concrete fell eight stories and crushed the cab of the excavator Gil was in.

“He was sent up into the ceiling of the cab,” Brandon said. “It kind of flattened like from a square into like a diamond shape; a really thin diamond.”

Firefighters saw that Gil was still breathing, but it took them 70 minutes to get him out of the crushed cab.

“They cut the cage apart piece by piece and used spreaders to try to get it apart,” Shane said.

Medics rushed Gil to the hospital. He had fractures in his back, neck, knee and some bruises on his brain. He underwent surgery Tuesday morning as his wife, Renee, hoped for a full recovery.

“It’s a miracle,” she said. “We’re very, very grateful.”

“Just the fact that he came out of there in one piece, that’s still just the most unbelievable thing,” Shane said. “I can’t – we thought he was dead, there was no doubt about it.”