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Boy hurt after falling 45 feet in grain shaft

November 20, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A 10-year-old boy suffered head injuries when he fell 45 feet down a shaft at an old grain processing facility in Charles Town Tuesday afternoon, rescue officials said.

The boy, along with his mother, were flown to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after the 2 p.m. accident, said Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co.

The boy, who was not identified, was listed in critical condition at the hospital Tuesday night, a hospital spokesman said.

The boy had climbed to the top of a building at People's Supply at the corner of Samuel and North streets by leaning an old wooden ladder against a silo beside the structure, Smith said.

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The boy climbed to the top of the ladder, which allowed him to grab onto another ladder on the side of the silo that was about 8 feet off the ground, Smith said.

The boy climbed to the top of the silo, which was about as high as the building, and then walked across a walkway that led to the roof of the building, Smith said.

There was an opening on top of the roof and it is believed the boy slipped into it and fell about 45 feet, Smith said.

Smith said the opening appeared to be a shaft for a maintenance elevator.

The boy landed on the roof of a wire cage, Smith said.

To reach the boy, rescue officials had to climb a ladder to the top of the building, then climb down the shaft, Smith said.

Smith said rescue officials got down the shaft by using a ladder that was already affixed to the inside of it.

Once they reached the boy, rescue workers opened two large doors at the bottom of the building so that other rescue workers could get inside, Smith said.

The boy suffered head trauma and was in and out of consciousness when firefighters reached him, Smith said.

"He never did become alert. Based on the injuries, we thought it was important to get him to a trauma center as soon as possible," Smith said.

A medical helicopter landed at Jefferson Memorial Hospital and the helicopter crew was taken to the scene in an ambulance, Smith said.

Smith said he has been worried about the possibility of youngsters playing at the grain processing facility and getting hurt. Smith said he believes the facility should be torn down.

Unlike the county, the city of Charles Town does not have an agency where people can lodge complaints about property that that might pose a threat to safety, Smith said.

The facility was closed a number of years ago and was once used to process and store grain for local farmers, Smith said.

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