Crews rescue man trapped in drainpipe underneath Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe

After working more than nine hours in a confined underground space Catoosa County firefighters working with multiple partners freed a man who was trapped inside a partially clogged storm drain beneath Georgia Highway 2 in the City of Fort Oglethorpe.

Just before 3:00 p.m. Tuesday Catoosa County 911 received a call from a motorist reporting hearing a man calling for help inside a storm drain under Georgia Highway 2 near the intersection of Highway 27 (Lafayette Road). Fort Oglethorpe Police arrived and called for assistance from Catoosa County Fire Department. Upon arrival Catoosa County firefighters determined the man was trapped inside a 24-inch drainpipe underneath Georgia Highway 2 and called for additional fire companies including the department’s Special Operations team and Walker County Fire Rescue.

Firefighters determined the storm drain was about 50% clogged with debris that accumulated over time that was of a heavy, rocky, clay consistency. For more than nine hours firefighters working with hand tools dug through the debris, with the assistance of a vacuum truck from Fort Oglethorpe Public Works to remove the material.

During the entire rescue operation 22-year-old Thomas Loher was conscious and communicating with firefighters. He was reported missing by his family Tuesday morning. Loher is believed to have been trapped since Monday when for unknown reasons he entered the storm drain several hungered feet away from where he became trapped. He was freed and taken by Puckett EMS to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

“Thanks to our firefighters putting their confined space rescue training to work and the assistance from several partnering agencies, this lengthy and technical rescue has a successful outcome,” said Catoosa County Fire Chief Daniel Walston. “I am proud of how everyone involved worked together to save this young man’s life.”

Chief Walston would like to thank these partnering agencies: Walker County Fire Rescue, Fort Oglethorpe Police Department, Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Catoosa County E-911, Puckett EMS, Erlanger Special Operations Team and LIFE FORCE Air Medical, Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, City of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia – Local Government Public Works, Georgia Department of Transportation, Hamilton County Rescue Rehab, Tri State Mutual Aid

CONFINED SPACE RESCUE UPDATE: From Catoosa County Government, Catoosa County Fire Department firefighters continue work through the night as quickly as possible with Walker County Fire Rescue and other area agencies to free a man trapped inside a drain pipe under GA-2 in Fort Oglethorpe. According to officials, It’s a very tight space that has been made tighter over the years with a build up of rocks, dirt and debris. Firefighters have to hand chisel through hard, compacted debris that is being removed with a City of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia – Local Government Public Works vacuum truck. The victim is conscious and communicating with firefighters.

According to authorities, Georgia Highway 2 (Battlefield Parkway) eastbound from the Catoosa – Walker County line to Lafayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe remains closed as Catoosa County Fire Department and Walker County Fire Rescue works to extricate a man trapped in a drain pipe underneath the road. The City of Fort Oglethorpe Public Works is also assisting with equipment and manpower. The closure is on the eastbound side of the highway, stretching from the Walker County at Park City Road to Lafayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe. Catoosa County Government PIO says the man identified by his mother as Thomas Loher was for reasons unknown attempting to crawl into a storm drain on the opposite side of the road and got stuck more than halfway through, as the pipe is 20-24 inches wide. According to his mother Thomas turns 23 next week and can been seen standing at the nearby intersection preaching. She said they located his bike nearby and reported him as missing. Crews said he has been in the drain since Monday. A woman driving on Battlefield Parkway heard him calling out for help Tuesday afternoon and called 911 for help. GDOT on scene said they will be having to pull the highway up in some spots to assist with the rescue.

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