Man falls down three-story shaft in Snowmass |

Man falls down three-story shaft in Snowmass

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – A Nebraska man celebrating his waning days as a bachelor took a different kind of plunge Sunday morning and had to be rescued from a ventilation shaft in Snowmass’ Base Village.A man identified by a relative as Peter Fellers, of Lincoln, fell into the deep, narrow shaft on the side of the Capitol Peak Lodge shortly after leaving his bachelor party at the nearby Base Camp Bar & Grill. The Snowmass Village Fire Department had to perform a high-angle rescue with ropes and pulleys to pull the man out of a shaft 30 feet deep, said Capt. Jason Hutter. The shaft was only 2 feet, 6 inches by 4 feet, 6 inches, “so it was pretty tight quarters,” Hutter said.Nevertheless, a firefighter-paramedic was able to rappel down to Fellers to render aid and get him hooked up so he could be pulled out. The fire department positioned a ladder from a fire engine over the shaft and used it as an anchor point. Fellers was placed in a Kendrick Extrication Device – a semirigid brace that secures a patient’s head, neck and torso in a neutral position. Fellers was lying on his back on the bottom of the shaft with his head in a corner and his legs bent in a sit-up position, according to Hutter. The victim wasn’t shouting or screaming in pain. He was calm and responsive to questions from rescuers, Hutter said.The paramedic fitted Fellers into a device that was hooked onto a main rope and a second safety line. Three police officers from Snowmass Village and a Pitkin County sheriff deputy provided the “brute force” to pull Fellers out, according to Hutter.”It was a pretty technical rescue,” said Snowmass Village Police Chief Art Smythe.The fire department was called to the accident at 2:16 a.m. Sunday. Fellers was delivered to Aspen Valley Hospital shortly after 3:30 a.m., Hutter said.Police officers were in the thick of the rescue, and they didn’t perform an investigation into the cause of the accident, Smythe said. Police and fire officials said they didn’t know how Fellers fell into the shaft.Fellers’ uncle, Gregg Nelson of Nebraska, said his nephew was initially taken to Aspen Valley Hospital where he underwent knee surgery. He was then transported to a Denver hospital where “several screws and two rods” were placed in his back. Fellers is not paralyzed but faces a long recovery, according to Nelson. He said Fellers is 28 or 29 years old and was engaged to be married in August.Nelson said his family is obviously concerned about Fellers’ recovery and also about the accessibility of the shaft. Several of Fellers’ friends attended the bachelor party and were present at the time of the accident. They said the shaft wasn’t barricaded or covered, Nelson said.The shaft ventilates the boiler room of the Capitol Peak Lodge. The shaft is off the side of a main stairwell that connects Carriage Way, a major thoroughfare, with the plaza at Base Village that opens to shops, restaurants and the Village Express chairlift. The stairwell is between the building that houses the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center and Hayden Lodge on the right as headed upstairs and the Base Village Conference Center and Sneaky’s Tavern in the building that includes Capitol Peak Lodge on the left.As the stairs descend from the Base Village plaza, a retaining wall increases in height, shoring up a landscaped area against Capitol Peak Lodge. The entrance to the ventilation shaft is tucked into a corner of the landscaped area, where the retaining wall is at least 12 feet tall. The shaft is removed from the regular course of travel, but it is accessible for someone willing to walk the capstone of the retaining wall or trample through the landscaping.”I don’t believe it was covered,” Smythe said of the shaft opening. “It was not readily accessible.”The shaft was covered Tuesday with a piece of plywood bolted into the capstone of the small retaining walls constituting the vertical shaft’s entrance. The building is managed by Snowmass Hospitality, a company tied to Related Westpac, which developed Base Village. The company did not respond to a request for comment.Hutter said the Snowmass Village ambulance crew also attended to a woman who was in Feller’s group and was injured at the same time. The woman, whose name wasn’t available, apparently tried to scale the retaining wall at some point to find out what happened to Fellers, then fell herself an unknown distance. Hutter said the woman received a head injury that wasn’t life threatening. She was taken to Aspen Valley

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