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Rockland County Little League Player Plunges 35 Feet Into Basement At Party

Justin Respress Recovering After Scary Incident; Firefighters Make The Save
Justin Respress (credit: CBS 2)

Justin Respress (credit: CBS 2)

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STONY POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Rockland County teenager is recovering after falling 35 feet into a basement during a celebration for a championship baseball team.

Stony Point senior Little League players and coaches were gathered at Kirkbride Hall for a postseason party after winning the state championship when Justin Respress did some unauthorized exploring behind a stage. While his teammates were celebrating on the basketball court, Respress went through a door and used a ladder to get up into the duct work.

He never saw the shaft that leads to the sub-basement. He took a wrong step and down he went, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“Everybody started screaming and we stopped playing. Everybody went to see what they could do to help,” said team manager Al Rastelli.

Rastelli said at first, no one knew where the shaft led, but they could hear the 16-year-old screaming for help.

“He was yelling that he was hurt, his leg, I think he shattered his leg. He’s in severe pain,” Rastelli said. “He was crying, he was very upset. We tried to find where he was by just listening to him. We could hear him from the hole up on top.”

Parents and coaches called 911 and raced to the basement, leading rescue workers to the spot where they could hear Respress behind a wall.

“We had to use some cutting tools to cut him out down in the basement and a lot of manpower to pull him out,” said Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Huslinger of the Stony Point Fire Department.

“He was scared, nervous, you know? A young kid, something like that happens, you don’t know where you’re at. You’re in a dark area,” Assistant Chief Curtis Wicks added.

It took nearly 20 minutes to free the teen. Teammates cheered as he was pulled from the basement. He was then rushed to Westchester County Medical Center in an ambulance.

“He was happy to see us, yeah,” Assistant Chief Wicks said. “We made the first cut, opened the doorway a little bit, shined the light and gave him a thumb’s up. He said, ‘OK, good to see you.'”

Respress is listed in stable condition after undergoing surgery.

His mother spoke exclusively with CBS 2’s Young on Thursday after visiting her son.

“He’s conscious, he’s doing well,” mother Tara Luongo said. “He’s waiting to go home.”

Both Luongo and her husband said they are grateful for the rescue workers who answered the call.

“They did a great job and they saved my son’s life,” Luongo said.

The building where the accident happened is more than a 100 years old.

Investigators said charges are anticipated against the injured teen. They believe he has probably learned his lesson.

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