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Hunter rescued from well shaft

TIGHT SPOT — The Jefferson County Urban Search and Rescue Team used a harness and pully system to raise Frank Dawson, a hunter from Washington, Pa., from the abandoned well shaft into which he fell Saturday evening. -- Contributed/Jefferson County Urban Search and Rescue Team

POTTERY ADDITION — A Washington, Pa., man can thank many rescue workers and his cell phone for getting him out of a tight and dangerous situation Saturday evening.

Rob Herrington, leader of the Jefferson County Urban Search and Rescue Team, said it’s fortunate Frank Dawson was carrying his cell phone when he fell 30 feet down an abandoned well shaft on property near the state Route 7/213 interchange.

Herrington said Dawson used his phone first to call a friend, then dialed 911, while up to his waist in cold water.

“If he hadn’t had cell phone coverage, hypothermia would have set in,” said Herrington, who estimated Chapman was in the well about 45 minutes.

Dawson told some of the many emergency crews he had been hunting in a wooded area nearby when he fell down through the hole, which had been covered with grass.

Herrington, who also is director of the county’s emergency 911 center, said he was surprised to learn Dawson was speaking to a dispatcher while wedged in a shaft about 28 inches wide.

“When they told me they had him on the phone, I was dumbfounded,” he said.

Herrington said a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy was among the first to arrive and after he activated his siren, Dawson told the dispatcher when he could hear it.

Herrington said about 12 members of the search and rescue team joined sheriff’s deputies, Pottery Addition firefighters and others in the search.

“He (Dawson) gave us pretty good directions,” he said, adding Dawson had parked his vehicle about 300 yards away.

“It all worked out pretty well because we were able to find him pretty quickly.”

Herrington said once they found the hole, they placed a tripod over it and used a harness and pully system to lift first Dawson’s loaded gun and then, Dawson.

He said a team member was prepared to enter the hole to lift Dawson up, had he been injured, but Dawson was not hurt.

Herrington said it took about 25 minutes to remove him.

He said another abandoned well was found not far away, and he plans to contact the property’s owner or the appropriate authorities about filling both of them.

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