Baltimore Police: Woman that died after falling into manhole had removed safety barrier

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 06:11:01-04

A woman that died after falling into a steaming manhole early Sunday morning on the 200 block of Pearl Street had removed safety barriers surrounding the hole, according to a Baltimore Police incident report.

The report states that the woman fell 10 feet down a manhole that conducts steam blocks away from Lexington Market at around 4:15 a.m. on Sunday. Fire crews weren't able to pull her out until just after 5 a.m. She was transported to the University of Maryland hospital and was pronounced dead at 5:20 a.m.

Related: Woman has serious injuries after falling into a manhole

"I can't imagine, I can't imagine. Well, I can't imagine how the person even got in there," said Vicky Dodson-Lake, who works near the scene of the incident.

According to the report, the woman removed a safety cage that surrounded a 14-foot high vent stack and then rocked the vent stack out of the way.

Passersby remember seeing the safety apparatus above the manhole sometime before the incident.

“It was there for about two weeks and I don't know when it came down, but it was there for a long time,” said Dennis, who also works nearby.

“A pipe or something coming out of the ground with a fence around it, like a gate, some type of gating around it, said Dodson-Lake.

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The police report indicates the vent stack weighed approximately 150 pounds. They believe the victim acted alone and no one else was around when she moved it out of the way.

Police also don't suspect foul play but are categorizing the crime as a questionable death. It's still unclear why the woman removed the safety barriers.

“It sounds so tragic, someone being scalded to death because of that hot temperature,” said Keith Thomas.

Because of the intense heat the fire department had to call in their special operations command. Even so, they weren't able to save her in time, and one firefighter was hurt in the process. The firefighter suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from the hospital.

As of Tuesday afternoon. police had still not been able to identify the woman.

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