By Amy Morrow

COLLEGEDALE, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Chase Ellis might not have walked away from this collapsed trench but he was pulled to safety.

Ellis was working to install sewer lines in this Collegedale neighborhood. The collapse happened about 830 pm Monday night at this house on Heathwood Drive.

"It was a heroic effort.for a lot of people, I'm glad he's doing well," says Chad Pickering, who witnessed the incident.

The sewer line stretches right through Pickering's driveway. When he heard the sirens and the commotion, he grabbed his video camera.

"I got the call and I'm thinking oh, a body recovery." says Tri-Community Volunteer Fire  Assistant Chief Dennis Thomason.

Fortunately Thomason was wrong. He says trench rescues are rare but are also time consuming and a painstaking.

"They were having to move a lot more dirt that what was around him to get him out of that hole," says Thomason.

Buried up to his chest, rescuers worked to move the dirt below his diaphragm so Ellis could breath, giving him an oxygen mask. With dozens of rescuers and four hours of patient work, they used a track hoe to lift Ellis from the trench.

"When he came out everyone was cheering and applauding and we knew everything was ok," says Pickering.

Thomason says the best thing Ellis had going for him was "he's young, if that'd been me I'd be dead, it's youth."

This was not Thomason's first rescue like this. Thomason was part of the team that rescued Patrick Darby in 1998, off Highway 58. That was a 15 hour rescue and didn't' have the same outcome. Darby lost his leg.

When Thomason was asked if he thought Ellis was lucky, he simply said 'I don't believe in luck. He is fortunate".