Workers Stuck for Hours on NJ Church Steeple

They were about 122 feet up, and were finally taken down after about 3 hours

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    Two men were stuck in a construction bucket lodged against a New Jersey church steeple for hours Thursday before they were rescued in a daring operation. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011)

    Two men were stuck in a construction bucket lodged against a New Jersey church steeple for hours Thursday before they were rescued.

    The workers were up about 122 feet on the steeple of the United Methodist Church, the tallest building in Morristown. They were working on a restoration project on the tower, according to the church's pastor, Neill Tolboom.

    Workers Rescued from NJ Church Steeple

    [NY] Workers Rescued from NJ Church Steeple
    Two men got stuck in a construction bucket against the United Methodist Church in Morristown, NJ, Thursday afternoon. Senior pastor Neill Tolboom tells NBC New York how the workers were rescued after hours. (Published Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011)

    Their construction bucket became disabled, preventing them from descending.

    The three-hour rescue required some unpredictable adjustments. First, the Morristown fire truck's 110-feet ladder wasn't tall enough to reach the 122-feet steeple.

    A second ladder was called in. It got closer, but was still six feet short.

    Finally, after about three hours, firefighters from nearby Madison and Cedar Knolls used a Super CAG on top of a crane from Denville to escort the workers to safety.

    "All's we did is pull up and give 'em a taxi ride home -- got 'em outta there!," said DJ Brightley of the Madison Fire Department.

    The New Jersey State Police also dispatched two helicopters to assist, just in case they had to rescue the men by air.

    "It was a scary situation," said the pastor. "It was a wonderful response from our fire company and our police. I prayed throughout the whole thing, and thank goodness I could pray with the fireman and policemen, and the two that got down, when they got down safely."

    Two neighboring fire companies said they'd practiced the high-angle rescues for 15 years but never had to put their training to work until Thursday.

    "I can't tell you how thrilled we were with the way the community worked together in such a professional manner, and got them down safely," said Tolboom.

    As for whether work on the steeple will continue Friday, Tolboom said, "We will have to figure out how to get the actual crane down, and then we'll see where we go from there."