Worker injured at site of bridge

June 26, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A member of a Washington County Highway Department crew clearing logs and debris from the base of the Broadfording Bridge sustained a broken leg Tuesday morning when he was struck by a log, rescuers said.

Tom Belew was taken by ambulance to the Broadfording Bible Brethren Church, where a Maryland State Police helicopter was waiting. He was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in serious condition Tuesday evening.

Belew, 48, was one of several workers who were using a crane to remove logs and debris that had drifted near the bridge, according to Joe Kroboth, director of Washington County Emergency Services, and a county worker.


Kroboth said Belew, who was working at the bottom of the bridge over the Conococheague Creek, had cut a 2-foot section from a log and hooked a cable around the log. Belew stepped aside for the crane to hoist the log, which was 18 to 24 inches in diameter, but the log got wedged under the bridge, Kroboth said.

The force of the crane yanked the log free and it spun out from under the bridge and whipped around, he said.

Belew's leg was smashed between the log and the bridge pier in the 10:30 a.m. accident, Kroboth said.

The impact knocked Belew into about 21/2 to 3 feet of water but he pulled himself up on a ledge and called to other workers for help, Kroboth said.

Belew was wearing a safety line, which prevented him from being pulled downstream, he said.

Rescue workers from Maugansville Goodwill Fire Co., including Sgt. Ian Swisher, climbed down the approximately 50-foot slope to the base of the bridge to reach Belew.

Swisher said the rescuers stabilized Belew's leg and carried him up the incline in a basket to a waiting ambulance. The rescue took about 25 minutes, he said.

Volunteers from Maugansville and Clear Spring closed down portions of Broadfording Road as the rescue team worked.

Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said at the scene that workers would finish cleaning up the logs on the bridge and then stop working for the day.

The crew was expected to be back on the job today.

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