Tree trimmer injured in 35-foot fall into sinkhole

November 29, 1995|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

A tree trimmer was injured about 9 a.m. yesterday near New Windsor when he fell into a sinkhole following a mishap involving an electrical line. He was listed in fair and stable condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Robert G. Tasker, 23, of Kingwood, W. Va., was trimming trees in a small wooded area near Nicodemus and Brick Church Roads when one of the branches fell and hit a power line, rescue workers said.

Mr. Tasker -- an employee of Penn Line Services of Scottsdale, Pa. -- was knocked about 35 feet into the sinkhole, the rescue workers reported.

Two hours later, the workers from the county's newly formed advanced technical rescue team pulled Mr. Tasker out of the 20-foot deep hole and sent him to the Shock Trauma Center.

They said the hole's gaping mouth made it easy to reach Mr. Tasker, who remained conscious throughout the incident. But because the sinkhole had a cavelike cavity on the side, workers found it difficult to position the the basket used to get him out.

"The big thing was getting him out before all the trees came down," said Robin L. Lamb, a member of the Winfield Volunteer Fire Company and the technical rescue team. "He was scared."

Rescue workers were not able to reach Mr. Tasker until Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. turned off power to the lines about an hour and a half after he fell into the hole. Mr. Tasker and his co-workers were trimming the trees for BGE, a spokesman said.

"The lines were burning into the trees, but we turned it off to make everyone feel more secure," the spokesman said.

Mr. Lamb said Mr. Tasker's vital signs were strong but that his shoulder appeared to be fractured. Rescue workers said they were able to push Mr. Tasker's dislocated right arm back into place.

"His arm was partially buried on the right side," Mr. Lamb said.

The rescue was athe first for the technical team, which was created last year after a sinkhole fatality less than a mile away on Route 31 in 1994 and several trench accidents in the county. Group members completed their training in August.

The area is the site of several sinkholes thought to be caused by pockets of dissolved limestone. In addition to the accident that killed a Taneytown man when he drove into the Route 31 sinkhole, another one caused disruption of service along a nearby stretch of the Maryland Midland Railroad early this year.

Members of Baltimore County's advanced technical rescue team also responded to yesterday's incident.

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