Attempted Break-In Through Air Duct Leaves Man in Critical Condition


You've heard of burglars botching their crimes, but an attempted weekend theft in Lewiston now has a man in critical condition.

The business owner is keeping the burglar in her thoughts after his attempt to rob her took a life-threatening turn.

When you're in the pawn business, break-ins kind of come with the territory. Though sometimes criminals can get creative.

"I've been in this business almost 30 years," Judy Winscot says, "and I've never had anyone come through an air duct vent before."

When Judy, who owns 1st Interstate Pawn, opened shop Monday morning, she and her coworker were greeted with something frightening.

"I said to her it, 'Sounds like somebody moaning,'" Judy remembers of that chilling moment.

A quick look around provided no trace of a person, but following the noise, the two women realized it was coming from a ceiling vent.

The first call was to the property owner, Zack Garner, who quickly determined there was a man stuck in the ceiling.

The would-be burglar had climbed onto the roof to access the air duct.

"Took the cover off, then he went in through there," Zack says, taking a look at the tiny space where the man crawled through head-first. "It's just kind of amazing he made it down through that and onto the vent," Judy says.

The biggest surprise came when rescuers opened the vent. "Schlunk - a naked man drops out of there," Zack says of the shocking moment. "It seemed funny at the time, like kind of a, you know, stupidest criminals story at first."

What could've been a funny burglar bungle quickly changed into something much more serious. The man was almost unable to speak and, even worse, struggling to breathe.

"Really an unfortunate situation and I mean, for him, to be in a place where he could lose his life," Judy says.

Everyone was shocked to find out what they thought was a few hours upside down in the duct was actually upwards of 30 hours. The man had spent at least a whole day stuck in that position; a Sunday - when the shop was closed.

"Pretty terrible, really," Zack says. "Property can be replaced and fixed but you can't fix a person when they're gone."

Police have been updating Judy on the man's condition, which remains critical. He was airlifted to a hospital and Judy says even if he survives, one or more limbs will have to be amputated due to being stuck upside down for so long.

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