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Rescue at Dam Leads to Safety Measures

COVINGTON TOWNSHIP — A water company is taking steps to secure property after an emergency over the weekend. A 14-year-old girl who fell down a well shaft...
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COVINGTON TOWNSHIP -- A water company is taking steps to secure property after an emergency over the weekend.

A 14-year-old girl who fell down a well shaft Saturday night at a reservoir in Lackawanna County is recovering. She and other teens were not even supposed to be there, considering it is private property.

Even so, the water company was out there on Monday trying to secure the area.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania American Water, which owns the dam, and people who live nearby say the area has been plagued by vandals who have destroyed gates, cut locks and taken down no trespassing signs.

But now following the dramatic rescue of a girl who fell 100 feet down a well, the water company is taking steps to make the facility safer.

Contractors for Pennsylvania American Water could be seen working on property surrounding theHollister Reservoir and Dam near Daleville.

The company is taking steps to try to make the facility more secure after a dramatic rescue operation early Sunday morning.

Police say a 14-year-old girl slipped into a well shaft in the concrete control tower, fell 100 feet, and ended up clinging to a ladder in 10 feet of cold water.

Three hours later, she was lifted to safety and taken to the hospital with hypothermia and a broken leg.

"I am hopeful that whoever owns the property sees this and takes care of the situation, because unfortunately, the next time we come out here, I don't think the result will be the same; I think there will be a loss of life," said Covington Township Fire Chief Brad Jones.

Following the rescue, first responders told Newswatch 16, the dam and the area around it lacked safeguards, such as no trespassing signs.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania American Water counters that in the past vandals have cut locks and taken down signs.

However, on Monday, one of those signs could be seen stapled to a tree near a trail along Jubilee Road.

Workers say the first step is to replace a gate that was vandalized at the entrance to the trail.

In another spot, we could see what appeared to be a new lock.

A water company worker at the site told us plans are in the works to make the concrete tower which is accessible by a catwalk more secure.

But neighbors wonder how such an open area can be closed off.

"I saw it on the news, my, it was scary, but why do these people trespass?" said Mary Ann Gedrich.

Shawnna Emerson, a mother of three, lives near the dam. She isn't sure anything will stop vandals she describes as determined.

"Will they follow the no trespassing signs? They will ignore them or find another way around them."

Police have 30 days to decide whether file a trespassing citation against the girl who fell in the well or anyone who was with her.

They say a major factor will be if the water company wants to press charges.