Rescuers extricate man injured by fall in silo Cable repairer from Pa. plunged 35 feet

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 the 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 specially trained rescue 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.

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

Belt said he heard Lapp call for help but did not know the repairman was injured.

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

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.

The quiet mood at the scene changed suddenly as a communications' radio broadcast the good news: "Stop, all stop, the victim's down, excellent."

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

"From what I understand everything worked great," said hTC Westminster Fire Chief Jeffrey Alexander. "Everything went real well, and it was a very smooth operation."

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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