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First responders rescue artist from water tower in Dunedin

Dunedin rescue operation on 5/27/2022
Posted at 8:25 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 23:18:11-04

DUNEDIN, FLA.  — First responders rescued an artist who was working on a mural on the side of a water tower after his equipment failed Friday afternoon.

Tom Stovall said the motor failed on the lift he uses and he became stuck about 150 feet up in the air.

"The motor froze is the only explanation that I've got and it was getting electricity, you could hear the hum," said Stovall.

A specialized team of first responders from surrounding agencies responded to the Curlew Water Tower.

"Pinellas County Technical Rescue Team is made up of members from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, Largo Fire Rescue, Pinellas Park Fire Rescue and Clearwater, all of those agencies work together as a unified team and they responded and were able to go through the tower up to the top and then remove him via the side," said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Handoga with Dunedin Fire Rescue.

"This was really impressive. It happened very quickly, extremely efficiently. They had the whole traffic thing down. It just was it was impressive," said Stovall.

Emergency crews put a harness on Stovall and brought him to safety.

"We got down to where his lift was which was approximately 150 feet in the air. They utilized a harness. They put Mr. Stovall in a harness. They hooked onto him and they lowered him down with a rescuer all the way to the ground," said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Handoga.

Stovall was not injured. He said he is grateful to the first responders quick response.

Mark Winter and Stovall are beautifying the water tower that was built in the 1960s. Stovall is painting Henry the gopher tortoise and will later paint a sea turtle named Sylvia on the other side.