Firefighters performed a challenging rescue Thursday when a young U.S. Navy seaman fell 20 feet down into the hold of a ship near Naval Base San Diego.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) Battalion Chief Mike McBride said crews were called to the BAE System's shipyard on Belt Street just before 9 a.m. to rescue a Navy worker injured in the plunge.
McBride said the victim – a 19-year-old seaman – was working on a ship that was being repaired on the dry dock when he fell through a hatch, down two stories into the interior of the ship.
A crew went into the ship and treated the young man as best as they could; meanwhile, from above, McBride said other firefighters used a rope system and crane to pull the victim out.
SDFD Capt. Joe Amador told NBC 7 the rescue took about an hour.
“It was a very difficult situation,” Amador explained, adding that a special rescue team was called into perform what is known as a “vertical rescue.”
Amador said that because the seaman was injured in a very tight, small space, the rescue proved especially challenging. He said the SDFD did an incredible job getting the man out as quickly as possible.
The SDFD posted photos of the rescue on social media:
McBride said the victim suffered severe head injuries and fractures in the fall. He was rushed to UCSD Medical Center.
As of 10:30 a.m., the man’s condition was unknown.
No one else was hurt in the incident, officials said.
Douglas Sayer, Commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told NBC 7 the Navy is aware of the incident. Sayer said the Navy will launch an investigation into the fall of the sailor.