A Pilot Mountain teen took a long fall in downtown Elkin over the weekend and was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for his injuries.
Keiton Ellis Cassell, 19, of 212 Foothill Farm Lane, was walking along Market Street above a 30-foot wall that drops down to a basketball court at The Main Street Learning Place on East Main Street where the fall occurred Sunday at 2:44 a.m.
According to Elkin Police Officer J.D. Johnson’s report on the incident, Cassell’s “girlfriend,” who was not named on the report, told Johnson that “Cassell was leaning over the wall against a metal post when the post broke off and he fell.”
The metal posts along the top of the wall are inside a short chain-link fence which runs between two parking lots on the southside of East Market Street. According to Surry County GIS tax maps, the property is owned by Verlie Freeman and Louise Vestal.
“Years and years ago, there was a business there,” said Town Manager John Holcomb of the property in question, which now hosts a parking lot and fenced in ball court for the after-school care facility in the adjacent building. “There was a building there at one point.”
He said he believed the wall was part of the back of the building which used to sit on the property.
“The town of Elkin doesn’t have it on our list of things to maintain,” he said of the fencing at the top of the wall. “The town of Elkin hasn’t claimed it as our fence.”
He said Market Street is maintained by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, but Holcomb maintained it was his assumption that the property owners are responsible for any fencing at the site.
“We’re going to do an investigation, but it’s never been on our radar,” said Holcomb. “I thought the property owner would be responsible for maintaining it.”
Holcomb said he assumed sometime after the building was removed the fence had been put up.
Brandon Whitaker, district engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said Thursday afternoon he has “researched every file I’ve got and I can’t find any plans about who built it or how long it’s been there.”
He said he’s been unable to locate a plan sheet covering Market Street, although sheets have been found for projects nearby.
“I’m sure it’s not in the right-of-way. In old town settings, in most situations our right-of-way is just what the pavement and curb is, so anything beyond that is more than likely the property owners,” Whitaker said.
He said in another media outlet’s interview with local emergency personnel, it sounded like something had failed, but what Whitaker learned was Cassell “somehow got on the other side of the fence, because the fence is still there.
“I don’t know how you prevent someone from going somewhere they aren’t supposed to be,” Whitaker said.
As far as the extent of Cassell’s injuries, John Shelton, Surry County Emergency Services director, said paramedics arrived on the scene to find him lying on his back and disoriented, and that his injuries warranted a transfer to Baptist.
According to Johnson’s incident report, “Cassell was conscious and alert, but kept repeating questions and statements about his condition.”
The police report indicated possible injuries to Cassell’s head and right shoulder, but due to patient privacy laws for medical personnel, Shelton was unable to provide injury information.
“If you land on your feet and cushion the fall it is not impossible to survive,” Shelton said of the 30-foot drop to asphalt. “He was stable when they left him down there, and he responded well to treatment en route to Baptist hospital.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.