Rescuers extricate man injured inside silo Pa. cable repairman falls from near top into hay

team hoists him in basket

October 15, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh and Ellie Baublitz | Mike Farabaugh and Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

A Pennsylvania man survived a 35-foot plunge inside a silo near Westminster yesterday, and was extricated nearly four hours later by firefighters who had to hoist him up and out by rope and basket.

Richard Lapp, 19, was repairing a cable at the top of the 70-foot silo at a 180-acre farm on Stone Road when he slipped and fell into hay and grass silage used to feed dairy cows, authorities said.

Lapp, who lives in Gap, near Lancaster, Pa., was in serious but stable condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was taken by ambulance to the Reese fire station and then flown by a state MedEvac helicopter to the hospital.

About 50 volunteers from Carroll County fire companies and a trained crew worked to rescue Lapp.

"His main complaint from the beginning, when [rescue workers] reached him, was that his back hurt," said Capt. Steve Wantz, of Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company. "He was conscious and alert, and talking."

Donald Belt, who owns the farm northwest of Westminster, said Lapp was repairing a cable that raises and lowers the silo's unloader about 10 a.m.

"When I heard him call for help, I thought he meant he needed help to do the job," Belt said.

Ricky and Deone Kisner, who work the farm for Belt, said Lapp first said he "needed a minute" to recover from the fall, but he soon asked to be helped from the silo.

"I knew I couldn't get him out by myself, and that's when I called for help," Ricky Kisner said.

Byron Welker and Dave Dickmeyer of the Carroll County Advanced Tactical Rescue Team rappeled into the silo to provide "first aid and monitor the air quality inside," said Lenny Yox, who directed the effort.

A ladder truck from Westminster was used to lower rescue equipment and to anchor ropes that hoisted the injured man.

From atop a ladder truck, firefighters assisted as the basket carrying Lapp emerged through the silo's top door and was lowered to the ground at 1: 40 p.m.

The rescue was slow because of Lapp's injury and concern for the rescuers' safety, Yox said.

While Lapp was being hoisted from the silo, rescue workers realized their basket was "bigger than they needed, so they had to lower it again and bring it back up at a different angle to get it through the silo door," said Lt. Bob Fogle, command chief from Pleasant Valley.

It was the ladder truck's first rescue since going into service Oct. 1.

"From what I understand everything worked great," said Westminster Fire Chief Jeffrey Alexander.

The county ATR Team was formed after a 1994 sinkhole accident in New Windsor that killed a Westminster motorist when the roadway collapsed beneath his van.

Yox, who responded to that fatality, said the sinkhole incident made the need for more training and equipment obvious and led to establishing the rescue team.

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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