Tram user dies in Anne Arundel

August 18, 2013

In parts of Anne Arundel County, houses sit on bluffs high enough above the water that residents install motorized trams to carry them up and down. On Friday, authorities said, something went wrong with one of the trams and a man was fatally injured.

The incident occurred about 5 p.m. in the 1300 block of Kinloch Circle, in the Arnold area, said Capt. Michael Pfaltzgraff, a spokesman for the county fire department. The area is a few miles northwest of Annapolis.

Exactly what happened is not clear and is under investigation, Pfaltzgraff said. But he added that at some point on its trip, the tram malfunctioned, and the 69-year-old man using it fell out or was thrown out.

The man suffered “multi-
system trauma,” Pfaltzgraff said. The spot where he was found was about 200 feet down a steep path of about 300 feet leading from a house to the dock below.

The man was placed inside a rescue basket, and emergency personnel, including 20 from Anne Arundel and others from Queen Anne County, across the Chesapeake Bay, brought him to the top of the incline using a rope-and-pulley system.

A state police helicopter flew him to the University of Maryland shock trauma center in Baltimore. A county police spokesman said the man, whose name has not been released, died there early Saturday.

Neighbors spoke highly of the man.

He was “just a really super guy,” said one, who said that the man worked full time and was involved in many volunteer and nonprofit activities, “service work, mission work.” He called the man a “very neat and giving person.”

Another neighbor described the man as “a huge volunteer” and “such a fine gentleman.”

A neighborhood resident said he knew of several private trams that had been installed on steep sites along the Severn River, which flows into the bay.

Often, he said, they use electric motors that power a moving cable connected to a small tram car that runs on rails up and down the bank. As the resident understood it, the tram systems can be controlled from inside the car and have safety devices that would operate in case of malfunction.

Neighbors interviewed Sunday night said they were not familiar with the details of what had happened. One said the houses sat about 100 feet above the water, but the path from the houses to the water was about 300 feet long.

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