Rescue crews were dispatched early Friday for the second time in three weeks to rescue an urban explorer who had fallen in an abandoned Minneapolis grain elevator.
Luke Kutsch, 22, suffered a broken leg and facial injuries after a 40-foot fall inside the former Fruen Mill, located at 303 Thomas Av. N.
He fell through a hole in the floor and landed on a floor below, said Minneapolis Assistant Fire Chief Charles Brynteson.
Kutsch was listed in critical condition Friday and was expected to undergo surgery on his leg and jaw.
On June 6, a 20-year-old University of Minnesota student, Emily Roland, fell to her death when she was exploring the former Bunge Elevator building near campus.
Kutsch’s friends and Minneapolis roommates, Adam Paulus and Marshall Hawks, were with him that night. In an interview Friday, Paulus, 23, said the three went to the grain elevator to check out the view from the top.
Paulus said he and Hawks had explored it before, but it was Kutsch’s first time. Kutsch went ahead of his friends without a flashlight, and that’s when he fell.
Hawks called 911 at 12:15 a.m. A group of 25 people arrived to assist in Kutsch’s rescue, including a technical rescue team, Hennepin County Medical Center medics, and Minneapolis and St. Paul firefighters.
Paulus said that Kutsch was lying on his side and when the paramedics began to move him, he screamed in pain. It took an hour for rescue crews to get him out.
Paulus and Hawks were taken away from the scene by police and charged with trespassing.
The abandoned grain mill in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood rises above Bassett Creek with its broken windows, boarded-up doors and walls defaced by graffiti. The building, which is owned by Fruen Mill Partners LLC, has created problems for the few businesses that operate in front of it.
While Minneapolis police regularly patrol the area, trespassers still come by, day and night.
Jen Turcotte was working late Thursday when she heard firetrucks pull up outside her car detailing business, Carsmotology. She has often seen kids walking around the building with flashlights.
“I’m worried about people being hurt down there,” Turcotte said.
She has reason to think so. Last year, it took crews five hours to rescue a man who fell 60 feet inside the Fruen Mill and survived.
In 2006, Ron Block of Burnsville fell to his death when a concrete beam in the old elevator gave way.
One business owner has taken to securing the building himself. Chris Jahnke, who owns Push, a digital marketing and advertising business, said his employees have boarded up and padlocked the building.
“There is only so much we can do,” he said.
Bryn Mawr Brewing Co. is expected to open a brewery next to the mill in winter. Dan Justesen, president and founder of the company, said the area, which has a view of the city and a small waterfall, is great location for his brewery, but the old elevator needs to be redeveloped.
There were plans to turn the mill location into condominiums but those plans were abandoned. Paul Fry, manager of Fruen Mill Partners LLC, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Paulus said his friend is lucky to be alive.
“We want to thank the fire department and the paramedics,” Paulus said.