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National Briefing / NEW YORK

Girl falls 14 stories, saved by a soot pile

August 03, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

A 12-year-old girl just wanted to show her cousin the view from her family's Manhattan rooftop. Instead, she fell into a chimney and plummeted 14 stories down the flue, emerging only slightly hurt to tell her story after landing in a pile of furnace soot.

Grace Bergere, a young rock drummer, injured her hip and was in fair condition at the hospital. A 2-foot-deep pile of ash and dust probably saved her life by cushioning her fall when she crashed into a basement furnace, fire officials said.

Fire Chief Austin Horan said Grace emerged "relatively unscathed" from the accident Thursday night at the Westbeth Artists Housing complex in the West Village neighborhood.

Firefighters responding to a 911 call never expected to find the girl alive. As her father screamed her name, they opened a small metal door at the bottom of the chimney, ready for the worst. Instead, Grace's small hand poked out.

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