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City man plunges to his death at Antietam

February 09, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

SHARPSBURG - A 60-year-old Hagerstown man plunged to his death from the observation tower at Antietam National Battlefield Wednesday afternoon in what was initially ruled a suicide, according to the Maryland State Police.

"Some employees from the State Highway Administration were at the tower having their lunch when they saw a man up in the top of the tower," said Trooper 1st Class Troy McDonough.

A short time later, they found the man on the ground on the south side of the 60-foot monument and called authorities.

The call went in to Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications shortly after 12:30 p.m.

Chief Ranger John Howard said to his knowledge it was the first time someone had fallen or jumped from the tower.

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The tower was built in the 1890s to commemorate the historic Civil War battle fought there on Sept. 17, 1862.

Access to the top of the stone tower near Bloody Lane is by way of inside steps to a platform with wide ledges at the top. The top of the tower provides a view of the entire park.

From the time the body was found until the state police had concluded their investigation, U.S. Park Service personnel blocked access to tourists trying to drive to the tower.

McDonough and Trooper 1st Class Mike Kretzer were on the scene for several hours.

A Mercedes with Maryland tags was towed from the scene shortly after 2 p.m.

Dr. Edward Ditto, a Washington County medical examiner, examined the body at the scene. Later he contacted the state police and said his initial ruling was suicide.

Ditto also notified the next of kin, police said.

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