Fire chief: Workers who fell in Wheeling water tower released from hospital

Two workers critically injured by a fall inside a village water tower Friday were released from the hospital on Sunday and likely are on their way back to their homes in Pennsylvania, Wheeling Fire Chief Mike McGreal said Monday.

A manager with the painters' employer, Washington, Pennsylvania-based D & M Painting Corp., confirmed that Tuesday, saying one man suffered a concussion in the fall and the other sustained facial lacerations.

The two workers had been sandblasting and painting the inside the water tower Friday morning when a cable holding up their scaffolding snapped. One worker fell 60 to 80 feet, while the other suffered facial injuries after the scaffolding swung and smashed into the side of the tank, McGreal said Friday.

Both were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation but by law has six months to complete it.

The preliminary findings of the Wheeling Fire Department's incident report Friday pointed toward equipment failure.

As many as 40 technical rescue firefighters from a dozen towns, some from as far away as Hoffman Estates, responded to the Wheeling-owned water tank at 702 Wolf Court just after 9 a.m. Friday.

Those technical crews were nearby in Arlington Heights having their first training session since the COVID-19 lockdown and came to the scene with all their gear, which sped the rescue work, McGreal said.

Rescue workers used ropes and harnesses to help both victims, in what was described as a "very involved and technical rescue" on the fire department report. It took rescuers about 12 minutes to ascend to the top of the tank, reach the injured workers and give them emergency treatment, according to the report.

Both injured men were then put in harnesses, and ropes were used to lower them some 100 feet to safety, officials said.

Two workers in critical condition after scaffolding cable snaps at Wheeling water tower

  Two workers had been sandblasting and painting the inside the Wheeling water tower Friday morning when a cable holding up their scaffolding snapped. Paul Valade/
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