Funny thing about the newsroom police scanner.

It can squawk and spit and buzz all day long, but I don’t hear what is said unless it’s something I’m supposed to hear.

Such was the case the morning of Saturday, Jan. 5.

I was working alone in the newsroom around 11 a.m., writing a cop log, when a police dispatcher said someone reported having fallen in a hole on a trail in the South End of Waterville, near the Hathaway Creative Center.

I kept working, but in my mind I pictured someone’s leg in a hole.

Should I go? No, I’ll wait to hear more. I kept typing.

Then the dispatcher said she was told the person’s entire body was in the hole.

I grabbed my notebook, phone and wallet, threw on my coat, grabbed my keys and flew out the door.

I knew exactly where the trail was, having been there many times before.

I tore out of the parking lot, drove through downtown to Water Street and turned left into the Hathaway parking lot, where lights were flashing on emergency vehicles parked by the southeast corner of the lot, near the trailhead.

I parked and sprinted toward the trail, all the while chastising myself for wearing shoes instead of boots, as snow and ice were on the ground.

Not 500 yards into the woods near the Kennebec River, firefighters and police officers were standing near a large fallen tree, its trunk and roots sticking up into the air.

Beneath a tangled mass of tree roots, two little hands, one holding a cellphone, were protruding out of a deep, narrow hole. I started snapping photos as I tiptoed around the area, trying to stay out of the way.

These rescue workers were amazingly calm, I thought, as I deemed the incident one of the more unusual ones I’d covered in my 31 years as a reporter.

I felt scared for the boy, whose stunned expression became visible as I moved around the scene. I looked over at police Officer Tim Hinton, wanting to say, “Have you ever seen anything like this?” but he just stood there silent, watching Glen Bordas, a fire-rescue technician, position himself flat on the ground by the hole, talking calmly to the boy and explaining how they would get him out of there by strapping webbing around his body and pulling him slowly upward.

The boy, Dias Greene, 15, and his friend, Madison Nicholas-Lee, 14, had been exploring on the trail when Greene fell into the hole, Nicholas-Lee said, as he watched nervously.

He said later that each time Greene moved, he slipped farther down into the hole until his entire body was beneath the surface. Nicholas-Lee kept urging him to be still.

Minutes later, firefighters successfully pulled Greene out of the hole, placed him on a backboard and carried him through snow and ice and over a short walking bridge on the trail to an ambulance in the Hathaway parking lot. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and, by mid-afternoon, was released with bruised ribs and a sprained ankle enclosed in an air cast.

The stars were aligned that day. Waterville’s fire chief, Shawn Esler, said his entire department was at the station for training, so there was plenty of coverage.

Greene’s mother, Annastasia Greene, was grateful to those who rescued him without incident.

She said her son loves being active in the outdoors and she encourages him to do that, but with two rules — that he always carry a cellphone and never venture out by himself.

Had he been alone and without a phone, the outcome could have been very different — a tragedy instead of a reason to celebrate.

His mother, who issued kudos all around, deserves a big one herself on that front.

And, thankfully, that treacherous hole has since been filled in.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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