This is a copy of an alleged letter written to an insurance company that wanted a complete explanation from an injured man who had explained what happened with the words "lost presence of mind".

"I'm a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of bricks left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by wheelbarrow, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

"Securing the rope at ground level, I went back up on the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground floor and untied the rope, holding it tightly to assure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in block 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 135 pounds.

"Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I 'lost my presence of mind' and didn't let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

"In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued the rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deed into the pulley. This explains the lacerations of my right hand. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and held tightly to the rope in spite of the pain.

"At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed about 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight of 135 pounds, in block 11. As you can imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

"In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations to my legs. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks, and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

"I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there in the bricks, in pain, unable to move, and watching the barrel six stories above me, I again 'lost presence of mind'; I let go of the rope."


Last updated Wednesday, March 15, 1995
Jonathan Dufour (