Elderly man falls through manhole, trapped in hole overnight - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Elderly man falls through manhole, trapped in hole overnight

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Manhole filled-in Thursday afternoon Manhole filled-in Thursday afternoon
GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

For a couple of hours Wednesday night into Thursday morning, a 66 year old man - trapped in a manhole - wondered if he would ever see the light of another day again.

It was about 8 o'clock Wednesday night. Ronald Ervin had just finished playing cards with friends and was walking to store. He decided to walk along the railroad tracks off the 400 block of East Long Avenue in Gastonia. He thought he was about to step on dirt surrounding by rocks.

"When I stepped on it, it went straight down" says Ervin. "I was very scared because I looked up and that manhole looked to me like it was 15 feet deep."

Ervin says he called out for help, and tried to climb up the ladder rungs inside the manhole but his legs were hurting. "If I put weight on one leg, the other leg still hurt" said the retiree, who talked to WBTV from his bed at Gastonia Memorial Hospital.

Along with the injuries to his legs, he says his hands had frost bite. "I tried to get out many times but I fell back down" said Ervin. "Next day this man going to work, he heard me."

About 11 hours later Ivory Floyd came along.

 Floyd was not supposed to be in the area Thursday morning but his job called him in for some hours.

"I heard the cry help me, help me" says Floyd." I ran over to the hole and said sir how did you get in there. He said I was crossing the barrier and I was gone.

Floyd says he gave Ervin a bottle of water, called for help, and stayed at the hole talking to Ervin to keep him company and take the elderly man's mind off the ordeal.

According to firefighters, when crews got on the scene they found the man trapped in the hole nearly ten feet down. The man told rescuers he had been in the hole all night.

The Gastonia Fire Department and Gaston EMS were dispatched just before 8 am Thursday.

One rescuer went into the manhole to check on the man's condition while others set up a hoist to raise him out of the hole.

The rescue took about 20 minutes to complete.

EMS transported Ervin to Gaston Memorial Hospital where surgeons were scheduled to operate on his leg.

Ervin says "if God hadn't sent that man I might be still out there. Very blessed." 

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