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Dropped cell phone sends man into deep well

When John McClure went to visit his friend, Kenneth Helton, Saturday evening at his Scottsburg home, he never imagined he would find him trapped in a 38-foot well.

But that’s exactly what happened.

As McClure approached Helton’s property in the 5000 block of James D. Hagood Highway, he said he could hear him yelling from the well in his yard. 

McClure immediately called 911 for help.

At 5:23 p.m., Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Department responded to McClure’s call assisted by South Boston Fire Department, Halifax County Rescue, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, Clover Volunteer Fire Department, Deputy Emergency Services Coordinator Chad Loftis and deputies from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Loftis, Clover Volunteer Fire Department was in contact with a confinement space rescue team in case they needed it, and Huber Wood Products was on call just in case they needed to use some of their equipment.

“All agencies worked together to get the job done,” Loftis said. “I’m extremely proud of them for utilizing their training.”

Franklin Wrecker Service also helped to extract Helton from the well with a rope.

According to Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Chief Jay Reese, it took approximately 45 minutes to an hour to get Helton out of the well.

He was then transported to the hospital suffering from a fractured foot along with some scratches and bruises.

The Scottsburg resident knows he was fortunate not to have been injured more severely.

He said he was just standing by the well talking on his cell phone when he accidentally dropped it in the well. He attempted to go down into the well after his cell phone and eventually realized he would not be able to get it. 

It was when he tried to climb back out he realized he couldn’t, so he allowed himself to drop to the bottom of the 38-foot well with the water breaking his fall.

“At first, I was thinking it was a stupid thing I did,” Helton said. “After a couple of hours I was thinking this is it. I’m going to die in here.”

Helton remained in the well for two hours before McClure came to visit. He said when he first fell in, the water was warm, but after a while, the water began to feel cold.

Helton said the doctors told him if he stayed in the well any longer, hypothermia could have kicked in.

Helton said at this moment his cell phone is still at the bottom of the well.