City man pulled 3 times out of Liberty Reservoir

Commandeered bass boat is sunk during rescue

June 15, 2005|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 39-year-old Baltimore man was pulled from the waters of Liberty Reservoir three times yesterday, the last time after police tried to rescue him in a commandeered bass boat that sank under his estimated 300 pounds, police and fire officials said.

During the hourlong incident, the man was first retrieved from the water by Baltimore County officers and placed in an ambulance, but he jumped out of the emergency vehicle on the Route 26 bridge over the reservoir channel, where he then fell or jumped while talking to police.

Police did not identify the man.

After he was fished out for the last time, he was placed back in the ambulance and taken to Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown for an emergency evaluation, said Bill Toohey, a Baltimore County police spokesman. Neither the man nor any of his rescuers suffered any apparent injuries.

No charges were filed, Toohey said, characterizing the case as "the edge of tragedy."

The incident began with calls to the state police in Westminster about a naked man in the reservoir and a call to Baltimore County police about a possibly suicidal person who had taken a vehicle.

Baltimore County police received a call listed as an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle yesterday morning, Toohey said, but the caller was more "worried about [the man's] emotional state."

Meanwhile, state police at the Westminster barracks received calls about a naked man in the waters of the Baltimore-owned reservoir at the boat ramp off Oakland Mills Road, said Sgt. David A. Warner. About 11 a.m., he said, Baltimore County police called state police to assist them at the bridge over the reservoir, near the Baltimore-Carroll county line.

The Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department responded about 11:20 a.m. for a call about a suicidal person, said department spokesman Bill Rehkopf. The water-rescue unit from the Gamber & Community Fire Department also responded, as did the Carroll County sheriff's office and employees from the state Department of Natural Resources.

Rescue boats from other counties also were called but were canceled after Gamber successfully retrieved the Baltimore man, the fisherman whose bass boat was commandeered, a state trooper and two Baltimore County police officers, who were wearing life jackets.

Toohey said two Baltimore County officers saw the man the first time in the reservoir "naked and splashing around in the shallows," and waded in to pull him out. That's when he was first placed into the Sykesville ambulance.

"As they began to drive ... toward the Northwest Hospital Center, he started arguing with the paramedic," Toohey said. "The driver pulls over to see what's going on."

The man then got out of the ambulance and went to the edge of the bridge -- "threatening to jump," Toohey said. The two officers talked to him for about seven minutes, and "he was facing them, with his back to the water, when he slipped or fell or jumped."

The Gamber unit was close by, but the three police officers enlisted an unidentified fisherman in an 18-foot bass boat that was closer, Warner said.

The boat remained at the bottom of the reservoir after several hours of searching for it, Toohey said. Warner said the reservoir reaches depths of more than 100 feet.

Rehkopf said the weight of the rescued man "really compromised the capacity of the boat. It just swamped. It sank." Fortunately, he said, the Gamber rescue team pulled the five men out within minutes.

"It was wrapped up in about an hour," he said.

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