The worker was pinned under the pressure of hundreds of pounds of mud. Every time rescuers thought they'd be able to pull him out, he kept sliding deeper in.
"He was facing forward, but his legs were going back under him," said Chief Richard Portello of the FDNY Rescue Battalion.
Firefighters got the call that the man was trapped in the 25-foot hole at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The victim's brother said he was working and tried to release a chain but was buried in dirt up to his chest.
The Department of Buildings said the crew was doing excavation work for a home that does not have a permit.
A stop-work order was issued when inspectors found workers had failed to install proper shoring that likely contributed to the collapse.
Address is: 119-21 83rd Avenue