Man rescued after 55-foot fall down old well


CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WSOC/CNN) - It took dozens of rescuers to retrieve a man who had fallen into a deep well near Hickory, NC.

As they gathered around the well, they called down to Billy Townsend as he responded that he was cold, despite the summer temperatures.

He had fallen forty feet into the well and then plunged another fifteen feet into chilly water at the bottom.

The owner of the well threw Townsend a drop cord and held on until help arrived, unable to grab on to the muddy wall of the old well.

Rescuers rigged a pulley system with rope and then one wend down into the well, first to check Townsend's injuries, and then to help him into a harness to pull him to safety.

"This is more than a one-team effort here. We probably have 40, 45 people on the scene to help one person," rescue worker Tom Lutz said.

Townsend's family was there when he emerged to help him dry off and hear his first words.

Amazingly he had only scratches and bruises from the big fall.

He said he fell through a metal covering on the well while helping put on a deck, and while he was waiting to be rescued the only thing he thought of was getting out.

"Get me out. Thank the Lord that I was able to swim back up to get my feet propped up against the bank. It's real slick in there," he said.

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