Worker rescued from well in Carroll

Man trapped for 2 hours in 4-foot-diameter hole

April 26, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A worker was trapped for nearly two hours inside a well north of Westminster yesterday before rescuers pulled him to safety, authorities said.

Mark Cornwell, an employee of the Stonemill Plumbing & Heating company of Pleasant Valley, fell about 11:50 a.m. while working in the well in the 200 block of Kowomu Trail near Union Mills. A rope broke and he fell into the water at the bottom of the 65- to 80-foot-deep well, according to Stephen A. Wantz, spokesman for the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Co., and other officials.

A member of Carroll County's Advanced Technical Rescue team used a rig with pulleys to lift the 39-year-old worker from the well. Cornwell, of the 3500 block of Nicholson Road in Westminster, was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, but authorities said his injuries were not life-threatening. He was in fair condition last night.

Cornwell was with a crew installing a well casing when he became trapped, state police said. He had finished working inside the well and was on a ladder tied to a piece of construction equipment, being pulled out, when the rope broke, police said.

The well is more than 100 years old, said homeowner Vanda Foster. The 4-foot-diameter well was dug by hand and lined with fieldstone. It had about 10 feet of water at the bottom, said Leonard E. Yox, the rescue team leader. While modern wells are less than a foot in diameter, he said, older ones had to be wide enough for men to work in.

Cornwell was able to climb out of the water at the bottom by using a ladder in the well, Yox said.

Pleasant Valley paramedic Margie Cole said she kept in touch with Cornwell at first by hollering down the well.

"That got to be a pain," she said. "I could hear, but his neck was hurting, so we sent a portable radio down."

An air hose was run to Cornwell, who according to Yox was also complaining of pain in his ankle, back and head.

Rescuers placed a tripod with a pulley over the shaft. Rescue team member Tommy Coe, a volunteer for the New Windsor fire company, went down the well and placed a harness on Cornwell.

The rig allowed a team of five to pull both men out.

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