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N.J. man rescued after 4 hours stuck in empty water pipe

Jan. 17, 2014 at 11:25 PM

MANALAPAN TOWNSHIP, N.J., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A New Jersey man was rescued Friday after spending at least 4 hours trapped in an empty pipe at a water treatment plant, authorities said.

Officials said Asef Mohammad, 26, of Manalapan Township scaled a chain-link and barbed-wire fence surrounding a United Water facility not far from his home, then climbed into a holding tank to reach a decommissioned 20-inch-diameter pipe, where he got stuck, the Asbury Park Press reported. Why he did it was still a mystery to officials.

"There is no reason for anyone whatsoever to climb into a pipe," said Rich Henning, a spokesman for United Water. "It is a facility that pumps water, pumps it out of the ground.

"In 25 years in this business, I have never seen this happen."

Jim Mastrokalos, director of operations for United Water, said workers heard a faint cry for help and eventually traced the voice to the pipe, where they found Mohammad about 10-12 feet into the pipe shortly after 7 a.m. EST, the newspaper said.

"Obviously, that pipe would not be the first place they'd look," Mastrokalos said of the employees. "But they were proactive and didn't ignore it."

Assistant Fire Chief Ken Genieczko said rescue crews had to dismantle the pipe section by section to reach Mohammad, then used a harness to pull him out about 11 a.m.

Mohammad was described as alert and talking, though hypothermia was a concern, Genieczko said.

Mohammad later placed under arrest and was to be charged with fourth-degree trespassing, the newspaper said.

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