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Stay Out! Stay Alive!
Stay Out! Stay Alive!
Near Misses
Incidents that could have resulted in a fatality, but did not.


04/03/2007

Tipton - A group of kids from Tipton on spring break were playing where they shouldn't have been Monday. Their playground was a cement factory. For one of them it turned into a brush with death.

The victim, nine-year-old Justin Harshman, left the Methodist Hospital Emergency Room late Monday afternoon. His spring break accident left him with a leg injury, but it came very close to being much worse.

It happened at IMI Cement on Tipton's east side. Police say Justin and some buddies were playing on top of a steel hopper full of gravel. They didn't know the gravel was falling down onto a conveyor belt.

"It just pulled him down. Two other kids with him ran inside. They (the employees) shut everything down but he was buried completely," said Tipton Fire Chief Don Bitner. "You could see just his hand (and) a little bit of his forearm sticking up. He was talking."

Firefighters held onto the boy's hand and passed encouraging messages through the stones.

"He was talking. We knew that he was still breathing, still with us," said Tipton firefighter Andy Clouser.

Firefighters and other rescuers grabbed shovels and buckets, forming a bucket brigade, removing stones from around the trapped boy.

"He was asking how long it would take to get out," said Clouser, "if he was going to get out."

Crews from IMI Cement, nearby fire departments and even the City Public Works Department pitched in. Chief Bitner said the Sewer Department sent a special piece of equipment that "has got a lot of power to it and we had to be real careful." It was a storm sewer vacuum truck. They used it to suck stones from around the boy's head and body.

After a half hour "when we got enough stones away from him," said the Chief, "they were able to pull him back up put him in a basket and pull him out of the pit."

IMI sees trespassers, but can usually chase the kids off before they get too close to operating machines. Police advise parents talk to their kids about the dangers.

"I wish we never had to do it," said Chief Bitner. "But it is satisfying when you get a recovery."

(Source: WTHR Indianapolis)