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Portsmouth officer used stone mason skills to save life of crushed 2-year-old

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 23. 2018 9:44PM
A toddler was trapped by the stone slab on the left on Friday. The slabs are off Little Harbor Road in Portsmouth. (Courtesy)

PORTSMOUTH — A police officer who was once a stonemason helped save the life of a 2-year-old boy who became pinned under a stone slab that pressed against his skull Friday evening, according to police officials.

Portsmouth police officers and firefighters rushed to 325 Little Harbor Road at 5:39 p.m. to help the child trapped under the slab, which weighed several hundred pounds.

The child had been playing atop a stone pile with his grandfather when the slab he was standing on became dislodged. The boy fell forward with the stone falling on top of him, police said.

The stones were being stored in the yard for use as the foundation of a seawall under construction on the property.

Officer T.J. Potter was the first to arrive on the scene. Potter had been a professional stonemason specializing in historic foundation repair, according to Sgt. Kuffer R. Kaltenborn.

“That experience allowed him to accurately summarize the extreme danger this child was in,” Kaltenborn said.

“It was Officer Potter’s opinion that the rock slab resting on the child’s head was in imminent danger of completely giving way, which would then subject the child’s head to the full weight of this stone. Additionally, that slab could not be moved until other boulders were first stabilized.”

Meanwhile, emergency medical personnel were gravely concerned about the child’s trauma, which they could not address until the danger of collapse was dealt with, Kaltenborn said.

The rescue took just nine minutes from the call for help to the child being pulled free of the stone and receiving medical attention, something Kaltenborn credits to excellent coordination between police and fire personnel.

The child was taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital for serious but what are believed to be nonlife-threatening injuries.

Kaltenborn said the victim’s family did an excellent job keeping the boy calm during this traumatic event.

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