Man rescued after tractor falls into 8-foot-deep trench More than 80 officers involved in 4-hour 'ordeal'

August 27, 1998|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

An effort to rescue an Ellicott City man whose tractor fell into an 8-foot-deep trench yesterday turned into a four-hour ordeal with 82 Howard and Montgomery county police, fire and rescue officers responding.

Peter Horowitz, 61, suffered neck and back injuries and was listed in fair condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Horowitz was dropping off materials at a housing construction site on Pindell School Road in Clarksville when his tractor fell into a hole designed for the home's septic tank. A construction worker jumped in to see if Horowitz was all right and then went to call police.

"He just couldn't get his tractor stopped," said Olen Ketterman, the construction worker who checked on Horowitz. "In two minutes, we could have had him out."

But rescue workers said they could not go into the hole without shoring up the trench, fearing that it might cave in.

"We can't go into an unshored trench greater than 5 feet deep," said Mark Deputy, a member of the Montgomery County cave rescue team. "We won't take that risk."

Ketterman said there was an easier way to solve the problem.

"I was trying to make a sling to get him out," he said. "This [rescue] ordeal is far worse than what he went through."

Said Capt. Chris Shimer of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, "In reality, he may be right, but safety is our No. 1 concern."

The shoring took about 3 1/2 hours, and rescuing Horowitz took another 20 minutes, he said.

Howard County police officials gave Horowitz a cellular phone so he could call his family from the trench.

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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