Two workers were safe after being successfully rescued from high above the Morristown Green Thursday afternoon. They'd gotten stuck seven stories up as the equipment they were using to renovate the steeple of the locked into place.
By 4:35 p.m.—more than two hours after the ordeal began—the workers were lowered to the ground in a large cage, attatched to a giant crane that had arrived about 40 minutes earlier.
Morristown Detective Keith Hudson said the workers seemed unharmed, but might be taken to the for evaluation following their ordeal.
The operation that brought the two down to Earth was the third rescue attempt made Thursday afternoon. In the first hour of the incident, a Morris Township fire truck got a ladder into place near the two workers, but it wasn't close enough. Just after 3 p.m., a Madison truck was providing an extension ladder for another attempt, but that attempt failed as well.
Morristown Police Capt. Steve Sarinelli said at the time the New Jersey State Police would be called in—but they had to travel from southern New Jersey. A state police helicopter did indeed arrive in Morristown around 3:30 p.m., but was not used for the rescue itself.
The large crane and the cage, labeled on its side as a "Super Cage," arrived on separate vehicles shortly before 4 p.m.
Hundreds of people had gathered near the corner of the Green to watch the spectacle, as area police and fire trucks from Morristown, Morris Township, Whippany and Madison attended to the scene.
Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty and Pastor Neill Tolboom each said, as the incident began to unfold, that it appeared the safety mechanism on the workers' boom kicked in after it struck the side of the steeple around 2 p.m.
Workers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were onhand as the incident came to a close. Sarinelli said they'd be able to determine if the workers used the equipment correctly, or if human error contributed to the problem with the boom. The workers had appeared to be using a rental truck from Able Equipment Rental.
He said experts would need to examine the equipment being used by the workers. The crane the two workers had been trapped in for most of the afternoon was lowered at about 5:30 p.m.
Roads were not blocked off during the incident, though South Park Place was down to one working lane only.
Gene Schack, a 16-year FedEx employee covering Morristown, said he was driving through town when traffic stopped. So he went to the Green.
"I've seen everything, but this takes the cake," he said. "I've seen some crazy stuff, but this, by far, is the best. I've seen fires, silly stuff. But nothing like this where the town is at a stand still. Where you've got four or five different towns here trying to figure it out."
Morristown resident Harriet Dorsey saw the rescue on TV and rushed down to see what was happening. "I'd call it excitement, but it's not safe for the workers," she said. "That was my main concern, that they got them down safely."
Jim Scully, of Morristown, was watching from near a bench on the Green.
"It's just another day in Morristown," he said.
Hopatcong Patch Editor Brendan Kuty contributed to this story.