Posted On: October 20, 2008 by Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

Two Policemen Injured in Fall Down Elevator Shaft

A veteran Bucks County police chief and a young officer were seriously injured in a workplace fall on Oct. 16 when they fell down an open elevator shaft at a Bucks County Winery.

Tinicum Township Chief James Sabath, 48, and Officer Mark Compas, 26, suffered numerous broken bones in the 30- to 40-foot plunge at Sand Castle Winery, Tinicum Officer William Mooney said.

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sabath and Compas were on routine patrol at about 11 p.m. Thursday when they spotted the security gate of the 72-acre winery open, Mooney said. They continued up the winding, paved drive to the massive, castle-like winery building, and saw a side entrance open, Mooney said.

"It was pitch black," he said. Sabath apparently stepped through the doorway and fell down an open freight-elevator shaft to the wine cellar, at least 30 feet below, sustaining serious injuries on the job.

"He was screaming for help, and when the other officer rushed to assist, he fell in," Mooney said.

The men that were injured while working radioed for help, and were lifted out with ropes by volunteer firefighters from nearby Erwinna. With the lower tier of the winery's parking lot serving as a landing pad, the men were airlifted to Saint Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem. Both officers suffered serious bone fractures throughout their bodies.

Yesterday, inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry examined the lift, known as a vertical reciprocating conveyer. No findings were released yet, according to a spokesperson for the department.

According to sources, the Sand Castle Winery's cellar was blasted 30 feet down in the ground below the castle, which held a grand opening last fall after decades of construction. The winery began selling wine in 1988.

The winery was open the day after the accident, but the doors leading to the elevator remained blocked by yellow police tape.

Nick Forte, chairman of the township board of supervisors, said the lift is just inside the doors.
"You open the door and there it is," he said. "It's a commercial lift, a platform that goes down to the processing area."

Any worker who has sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of their employment has a potential workers' compensation claim. The injury can occur while traveling on business, doing a work-related errand, attending a required business-related social function, or even while on a break or using restroom facilities and you are still legally covered by workers compensation.

Whether your injury was a simple slip and fall, or involves serious injuries and property damage, Cherry, Fieger & Marciano can help you. Our dedicated and experienced Pennsylvania work injury lawyers will do everything possible to get the monetary compensation that is owed to you to help pay for medical bills, physical therapy, loss of work and more.