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Man rescued from drain in Hagerstown

February 18, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown firefighters battled cold and accumulated snow Monday to rescue a man trapped in a storm drain under an alley off Mulberry Street.

Brandon Lee Hoppe, 19, was clothed only in his underwear and was "extremely hypothermic," according to Capt. Brian Pile of the Hagerstown Fire Department. He also had cuts and bruises. "He's a lucky guy," Pile said.

Hoppe's predicament became known Monday afternoon when Darryl Jones, of 30 N. Mulberry St., heard screaming from the alley.

"The hole was covered up," Jones said, "so I started shoveling snow off" the grate covering the drain. When he saw the man, he had his roommate, Michael Carter, call for help.

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The fire company, Community Rescue Service and the Special Operations Unit responded.

In the meantime, Jones and Carter stayed near the drain.

"We were talking to him," Carter said. "... He remembered walking down the alley. But he didn't know how he got down there" into the drain.

Pile said that when rescuers arrived, "we could see him down in the storm drain. We're not sure how he got there or how long he was there."

The tough part for firefighters, he said, was removing the grate. Once the grate was off, firefighter Andrew Hartman put on a harness and was lowered into the drain to bring Hoppe up, Pile said.

Hoppe was taken to Washington County Hospital. His condition was unavailable Monday night because he was still being treated in the emergency room, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The whole operation took about 25 minutes once firefighters arrived, Pile said.

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