A naked man on Tuesday got stuck in a ventilation shaft behind the facade of a Napa building, forcing first-responders to smash pieces of the building's wall to get to him, according to fire officials.
The man, reportedly went in search of a "wishing well," but ended up getting trapped in the constricted space near a TOGO'S Sandwiches and Baskin Robbins on Soscol Avenue around 8:40 a.m., said Bruce Schmitz, a construction worker who called 911.
The man, who was found in the fetal position with his knees drawn up to his chest, is believed to have accessed the shaft through a door on the building's roof, according to Napa Fire Department Battalion Chief Charlie Rhodes.
Napa police identified the man as 48-year-old Robert Turbidy. They said on Facebook that he "lowered himself into a crawl space" with the help of a makeshift rope, which, unfortunately, broke. So Turbidy was trapped at the bottom of the shaft, unable to get into the businesses, which were closed that early in the morning.
"It is very unusual for us to have this sort of rescue," Rhodes said, noting that it was unclear whether the man "fell straight down or if he had braced himself" as he plummeted 30 feet down the vent.
Firefighters decided to break away the building's exterior rock to reach the man, who was then taken to a hospital, Rhodes said. The fall definitely had the potential for severe injuries, he said.
Schmitz said he and a colleague were beginning work for the day when they heard faint cries for help. As Schmitz searched in and behind dumpsters, he heard the sound again: "Help me, please. Help me."
At first, Schmitz approached a Togo's employee and asked if someone was playing a prank.
"Do you have someone in the bathroom, playing games, saying, 'Help me! Help me!'" he asked. "It's not very funny."
Turns out, the woman had also heard the man pleading for help. So Schmitz jumped into action.
"I start to ask, 'Hey, is there someone in there?'" Schmitz said.
"Yes, I'm in here," the man replied. "I was looking for a wishing well."
Schmitz replied: "What? How did you get in there?"
The man responded: "What's it matter? I didn't find it."
He then added, "I was drunk last night," to which Schmitz said, "OK, we got that figured out!"
After his rescue, Turbidy was treated for minor injuries at a hospital. He will now be booked into Napa County Jail, and await burglary and probation violation charges, according to police.