Angel in the well 'A miracle': Baltimore County firefighters' rescue of fallen boy bolsters public's faith.

April 12, 1997

HE'S 6 YEARS OLD. One minute, he was running around his backyard with his younger siblings; the next, he fell 40 feet down a hole. His leg was broken. It was dark and cold. He was soaked and clinging to a pipe that kept him above water. Night was descending.

Most adults in that situation would be terrified. So what possibly could have run through the mind of young Roderick Aguillard IV?

He was the boy who fell Tuesday evening into a well beneath a pump house behind a home in rural Baltimore County where his family has lived the past several months.

Whether he summoned one of the angels that he and his parents discuss nightly when he settles into bed isn't known. But an angel did arrive, in a Baltimore County firefighter's slicker. Lt. Mark Gardner, specially trained to work in close confines, was lowered by colleagues into the cavity to extract young Roderick. The doe-eyed boy did suffer a broken leg, but not the suspected hypothermia, and was back home from the hospital by Wednesday.

"A miracle," the director of pediatric trauma at Johns Hopkins Childrens Hospital dubbed the outcome. Indeed, it was. The deed drew national press, in part because the nation recalls its fixation a decade ago on a Texas girl named Jessica who was similarly trapped for two days.

That Roderick's dilemma turned out so well so fast was a tribute to the training and dedication of the Baltimore County Fire Department. There are other stories in the news that depict the system breaking down -- an alcoholic dying in a Baltimore holding cell because he didn't get treatment in time, for instance. And, there have been reports in the past of well missions that went awry, with methane gas overcoming the person being rescued and the rescuers alike. But, thankfully, in the case of young Roderick Aguillard, the system worked.

People want to believe that their public servants will be there when they need them. Tales like this bolster that faith, and help little boys and others believe in angels, too.

Pub Date: 4/12/97

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