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Geiger’s Counter: Our own Christmas miracle

It was among the worst nightmares a parent could imagine. An intense hour above ground while your three-year-old son is trapped below ground, having fallen into an abandoned well. That is exactly the scenario that unfolded right before the eyes of Kelli Altman Thursday when her son Carter fell into an old well near her home on Martin Dairy Road near Milner. The old well had been filled with dirt years before and capped with concrete. Young Carter was playing on top of the concrete when the earth beneath it gave way and he fell in. Thankfully, Carter was only in about 10 feet deep and there was no water in the well at that level. Rescuers speculated heavy rains washed out the earth beneath the cap, causing the accident. Kelli Altman called 911 for help and help arrived in a big way. Law enforcement officers, firemen and first responders from all over the place responded immediately. The Altman lawn was crawling with rescue people. The ground around the well was very unstable and a second cave-in was feared. So, there was no way for an adult to climb in and haul Carter out. He would not climb out on a small ladder lowered to him. A rescue team from Clayton County and a backhoe were summoned to the scene. Everybody had different ideas on how to get the kid out. Lamar fire chief Steve Andrews arrived and took command of the situation. He cajoled Carter to climb the ladder to no avail. He offered candy to no avail. Finally, Andrews and his firefighters fashioned a noose of rope threaded through a piece of PVC pipe. They lowered Carter’s favorite stuffed Barney toy to him on another rope and, as Carter reached for the stuffed dinosaur, the noose was positioned around his right wrist, tightened and the child was hauled out of the ground. Applause erupted as rescuers and family celebrated what the boy’s great aunt, Cheryl Idol, called ‘our own Christmas miracle’. Andrews walked off by himself. Likely he was uttering a prayer of gratitude. It was a miracle indeed and I, for one, am glad we live in a place where first responders arrive in force when a call for help goes out. I am thankful for the sure manner in which chief Andrews took command of the situation, calmed everyone’s nerves, and came up with a way to get the little boy out safely. People like Andrews, our firefighters, deputies, police officers, DNR rangers, EMTs and others are on call every day to handle things like this. Make it a point to thank them when you see them. You may be next in line for their help. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and the Pike County Journal Reporter.

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