Man rescued from hole after searching for antique bottles in downtown Wilmington

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Submitted: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 3:25am
Updated: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 3:29pm

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.

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7 Comments on "Man rescued from hole after searching for antique bottles in downtown Wilmington"

Wade griffis
2015 years 8 months ago

Remember this line from a Tom Hanks movie? “Stupid is, as stupid does.”

2015 years 8 months ago

What a waste of money and time spent on this Dumb A@@! Climbing in a crap hole(litterly) to find old bottles. Was he trespassing on this property? If so, charge him with the crime and ask for the money it cost in manpower for restitution. Once again DUMB A@@!!!!

2015 years 8 months ago

As the saying goes, “You can’t fix stupid.” I think this guy should be billed for the rescue efforts.

2015 years 8 months ago

You read my mind…

I also think that he should pay restitution to all who responded to the rescue. Even though accidents happen, this is one that certainly could and should have been avoided.

What a stupid thing to do.

Ambulance service will charge a pretty penny, so he will be sure to pay dearly there.

Glad no houses were burning while he was FORTUNE HUNTING (?), I guess.

2015 years 8 months ago


2015 years 8 months ago

But how is this any different than a person not looking before pulling out onto a busy roadway and causing a car wreck?

Stupidity plays a part in many accidents. Are we supposed to start rating the stupidity level to decide who is going to pick up the tab?

2015 years 8 months ago

I will make a fair and impartial judgment based upon the degree of stupidity and negligence involved, and in the case of females under forty-five, what they look like.

Your example, a person pulling out in traffic, is more a case of carelessness or lack of attention than blatant stupidity. To climb into a nine-foot deep hole with absolutely no revetments requires one to remove their brain and leave it in the car before they start digging.