Westminster workman killed as wall collapses

May 25, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer Sun Staff Writer Mark Guidera contributed to this article.

A 35-year-old Westminster workman was injured fatally yesterday when a section of a decorative granite-block wall collapsed on him in Lutherville as he was digging a ditch beside it so the wall could be moved.

A MedEvac helicopter flew the victim, Geoff MacLellan, of the 1200 block of Fairway Drive, to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The accident occurred about 9:30 a.m. at the entrance to Selsed House, the former Marburg estate, in the 1100 block of W. Seminary Ave.

Authorities said Mr. MacLellan was digging a ditch beside the semi-circular wall so cables could be passed beneath it to a crane which would then hoist it onto a truck.

The wall, anchored by a large pillar, was one of a pair of walls that have marked the entrance to the estate since the 1930s.

The walls were to be moved and reassembled close to the Tudor-manor replica mansion because the rest of the estate is being developed for new houses, said Stewart Greenebaum, one of the developers.

Jim Kappes, who used his backhoe to pull the wall off Mr. MacLellan, said the pillar at the end of the wall toppled, pulling the adjacent wall section onto Mr. MacLellan.

Fellow workers pulled the victim free as Mr. Kappes lifted the wall with the backhoe.

"I thought he would be OK," Mr. Kappes said. "He was moving his arms and legs. Then they started giving him CPR before they took him away in the helicopter."

Two county Fire Department ambulances and the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company rescue unit arrived and paramedics administered first aid and CPR before the helicopter arrived, said Battalion Chief Patrick Kelly, department spokesman.

Mr. Kappes said the ditch had been dug about 4 feet deep on both sides of the wall. The wall was about 25 feet long and tapered in height from about 8 feet near the pillar to about 4 feet at its end. Ditches had been dug on both sides of the wall, in preparation for moving it.

Two inspectors from the Maryland Office of Occupational Safety and Health interviewed Mr. MacLellan's fellow workers at the scene.

Originally, the walls were to be demolished, Mr. Greenebaum said. Then, he said, Henry M. Wright Jr., who bought the mansion from the Marburg family a few years ago, asked if he could have them relocated and preserved near the house.

Franklin Sheppard, 49, the truck driver who was waiting to transport the wall sections, complained of chest pains after helping free Mr. MacLellan.

Taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital in Towson, Mr. Sheppard was admitted in stable condition, said a hospital spokeswoman. She said state law prohibited her from giving any information about his complaint or where he lives.

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