Officer saves woman from 4-story plunge He grips her arm as she dangles from fire escape

August 24, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

In a scene worthy of Hollywood, a police officer held onto the arm of a woman dangling four stories in the air from a downtown Baltimore fire escape last night until help arrived and she was carried to safety.

Authorities said they did not know why the incoherent woman climbed onto and over the rails of the fire escape on the vacant building in the first block of S. Howard St., but believed she was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

A passer-by spotted the 36-year-old woman on the fourth floor of the building, standing dangerously near the open edge of a section where the wall is missing, and alerted men on duty less than a block away on Lombard Street at the Steadman fire house about 7:40 p.m.

"We came around the corner and she was just kind of wobbling around, [acting] pretty flipped out, on the edge of the building," said Lt. Stephen G. Gibson, commanding officer for a rescue unit at the fire house. "She leaned out onto the fire escape where she stood. She reached out and grabbed onto the fire escape and was hanging from [it] by two hands."

Police Officer Maxwell Anderson ran up the fire escape and grabbed an arm -- his strong hand becoming a lifeline as the woman let go of the rails, according to Lieutenant Gibson, who said he climbed up and stood over Officer Anderson to grab the woman by her hair.

Fire emergency vehicle driver Stephen A. Cabo helped the men pull the now-limp woman back to the escape landing and hold her until she could be strapped and handcuffed into a rescue litter and lowered to the ground in the basket of an aerial ladder truck, Lieutenant Gibson said.

"Thank God she wasn't fighting us on the fire escape," Lieutenant Gibson said. "She was like a dead weight at that point. She didn't fight us at all."

Police Lt. Steve McMahon, shift commander at the Central District, said he would recommend a bravery commendation for Officer Anderson, a Western District policeman working an overtime shift downtown. "No doubt his life was in danger."

The woman was admitted for observation at the University of Maryland Medical Center, authorities said.

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