A teenager climbing atop a long-closed Mississippi River bridge in central Minnesota grabbed an electrical wire to avoid falling, was shocked and landed 30 feet below on the span's deck, authorities said.
Emergency responders got 16-year-old Daniel Fleigle's pulse started again at the scene in Sartell and rushed him to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, where a hospital spokeswoman said the teen was in critical condition Thursday afternoon.
Fleigle, who was with five other teens who remained below on the deck of the 102-year-old Sartell bridge, was walking on the span shortly after sunset Wednesday when he fell, according to police.
A 911 dispatcher gave instructions in cardiopulmonary resuscitation to one of the teens with Fleigle before officers arrived and took over, police said.
Fire and medical personnel also raced to the bridge and encountered impediments on both ends of the 587-foot-long span, said Deputy Police Chief Dale Struffert.
At the direction of a teen speaking with dispatch, the emergency responders first went to the west end of the bridge but discovered that the span didn't actually touch the riverbank but was connected with large utility pipes, Struffert said.
Once the responders reached the bridge's east end, they used chain saws to cut through the brush and raced to the boy on foot with a backboard, the deputy chief added.
Firefighters then joined the officers in reviving Fleigle, and a pulse was restored, police said. However, the teen, from nearby Sauk Rapids, was having difficulty breathing and was unconscious when removed from the bridge to St. Cloud Hospital and then HCMC.
Struffert said there are "no trespassing" signs on the bridge as well as chain-link fencing and "other types of barriers" that the group circumvented.
In his 26 years on the force, Struffert said, he's "never had an incident like this; maybe a couple of trespassers over the years."
The city converted the old Sartell bridge to a pedestrian-only span in 1984 after opening a new span for vehicles downstream.
The old bridge has been closed even to people at least since 1990, police said, and it now carries utility lines.