The Huddersfield Examiner reports that escapologist Antony Britton is "lucky to be alive" after losing consciousness during a Buried Alive stunt at Slaithwaite Spa in the UK. Britton had hoped to escape after being handcuffed and buried in a standard-sized grave under six feet of soil. He was hauled out unconscious by crew members when he failed to appear after almost nine minutes.
"I almost died," he said. "I was just seconds away from death. It was scary. The pressure of the soil was crushing around me. Even when I found an air pocket, when I exhaled the soil around me was crushing me even more. I could feel myself losing consciousness and there was nothing I could do about it. I was pretty much dying."
"But everyone was on the ball and the crew was well-drilled. They knew pretty much where I would be under the soil and after the digger had moved in behind me, the team were hand-balling the soil until they could reach me."
Britton's stunt was a duplicate of a Buried Alive escape Houdini performed in California in 1915. Houdini had much the same harrowing experience. He quickly discovered the "weight of the earth is killing," and after failing to be heard when he called for help, his was able to just break the surface before losing consciousness. His assistants then pulled him from the ground.
In 1949, escape artist Alan Alan also attempted a Buried Alive escape without a container, and also had to be rescued. On Halloween 1990, magician Joseph Burrus was killed during a Buried Alive stunt when his casket collapsed under the weight.
Britton was taken to a waiting ambulance where he was given oxygen before regaining consciousness. He sustained a cracked rib and several scratches. He says he won't be attempting the Buried Alive escape again.