California contractor flown to University Hospital after Fulton ditch caves in

Fulton first responders worked to remove John Bestgen of California from a ditch that partially collapsed on him Monday while he worked to excavate a sewer main off of Country Club Drive. Bestgen was taken to University Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Fulton first responders worked to remove John Bestgen of California from a ditch that partially collapsed on him Monday while he worked to excavate a sewer main off of Country Club Drive. Bestgen was taken to University Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Photo by Dean Asher.

A California man was buried up to his waist when a ditch he was contracted to excavate caved in off of County Club Drive in Fulton Monday, sending him to University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Emergency crews responded around 11 a.m. to find John Bestgen, 50, partially buried in the ditch.

City Engineer Greg Hayes said that Gene Haile Excavating had been hired to dig up the sewer main off of Country Club Drive, which the city plans to replace. Hayes said that the ditch became unstable and collapsed as Bestgen was working.

Fulton Fire Chief Dean Buffington said Bestgen remained conscious and responsive through the incident. Callaway County EMS also responded to assist and the Fulton Police Department directed traffic around the accident.

"The number one step is to keep (the ditch) from doing it again," Buffington said. "We want to do the best we can to stabilize the ground around him before we get him out. Then when we're done with all that, we dig out around him."

Emergency responders were able to hook Bestgen by harness to an excavator crane from the ditch before transporting him to the University of Missouri helicopter shortly after noon.

Buffington said Bestgen sustained injuries but they did not appear to be life threatening at that time.

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