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Woman falls inside Antietam tower

September 17, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A 55-year-old Northern Virginia woman fell down the top 15 steps inside the observation tower at Antietam National Battlefield Monday afternoon as she was leaving with her husband.

Frances Taylor of Woodbridge, Va., was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore shortly after the 3:36 p.m. incident. Her condition was good Monday night.

Sharpsburg Paramedic Dave Hays said Taylor fell down the inside stairs from the platform at the top of the tower to the first landing.

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"There are 15 metal steps down to that first landing," Hays said. "The walls inside the tower are the same stone as on the outside."

Hays said Taylor was conscious and alert while she was being treated for head and other injuries Monday afternoon.

Instead of trying to bring Taylor down inside the tower, a call went out for the Halfway Volunteer Fire Co.'s ladder truck, which has a platform that would enable rescuers to lower her to the ground outside the tower.

"It was safer for her and for the rescuers," Hays said. "Everyone who responded did a great job ... it went just like it should."

Sharpsburg Fire and Ambulance personnel responded and summoned the Maryland State Police medevac helicopter from Frederick, Md., which flew Taylor to Baltimore at 4:40 p.m. Her husband drove to the hospital.

National Park Service Ranger Todd Stanton was heading up the investigation into what he described as an accidental fall. He said Taylor and her husband were visiting the battlefield sites when the fall occurred.

Chief Ranger John Howard arrived at the scene fearing the worst. "My heart skipped when I heard that someone had fallen at the tower," he said.

Howard was recalling when a 60-year-old Hagerstown man plunged to his death from the battlefield tower on Feb. 9, 2000, in what was ruled a suicide by Maryland State Police.

Howard said at that time, to his knowledge it was the first time someone had fallen or jumped from the 60-foot tower.

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 inside steps to a platform with wide ledges at the top.

The top of the tower provides a view of the entire park.

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