WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Crews rescued a man Wednesday night after he was buried up to his chest in a hole dug behind a home in downtown Wilmington. While digging for historic bottles in a backyard, the ground collapsed around him.
It took more than two hours for rescuers to get Patrick Barnes back on solid ground. His wife Nicole says the hole he fell into was the site of an old privy or outhouse.
“He was digging, actually, and his friend was on the side taking buckets of dirt from him, and the side of the hole caved in on him,” Nicole Barnes said.
Patrick Barnes, 42, was about nine feet deep digging for historic glass bottles in the backyard of a home at Third and Nun Streets with a friend. The woman who owns the home had given them permission.
Tim Smith, a Wilmington Fire Department spokesman, says rescuers placed plywood and boards around the hole to prevent any further collapse.
“This was a joint rescue effort from Wilmington Fire, New Hanover Regional EMS, the Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department,” Smith said.
A special operations paramedic was sent down to check Barnes’s baseline vitals while he was stuck.
“What took so long is they were digging the hole manually with buckets, and as they removed the dirt, dirt or sand it would fill back in,” Smith said.
Crews used a harness to pull Barnes up out of the ground around 8:30 p.m. He was put onto a stretcher and transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. His wife says she hopes he thinks twice before going bottle hunting again.
“We’ve never let him do it alone for this reason, but with it going this far, even with someone with him, I don’t care for him doing this again,” she said.
According to a spokeswoman from New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Barnes is in fair condition.