A fire boat approaches the dock in Severna Park where medics await the patient injured in a private tram accident. Photo: Erin Gruver

Man Seriously Injured in Private Tram Malfunction

A terrifying accident put a worker in critical condition when he plunged down a bluff in a Severn River homeowner’s private tram on Tuesday evening.

It happened at a home on Boone Trail, a residential street that follows a small peninsula in the Severna Park area of the Severn River. Many Severn River homes sit high above the water, with a steep bluff leading down to the waterfront.

As Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Joshua Bramble explains it, “The cable car/trolley is often installed on waterfront properties that are elevated above the water. They’re typically used to transport items to and from the dock area.”

On Tuesday, two workers were in the tram when the cable snapped. The tram traveled uncontrolled about 25 feet down its track and then came to an abrupt stop, Bramble tells us.

Because of the incline of the property, the Anne Arundel County and Annapolis fire departments responded by boat. A Maryland State Police helicopter was also called.

Fire boats brought the injured patient to a community dock in the nearby neighborhood of Round Bay, where an ambulance was waiting with EMTs and an emergency room doctor due to a reported head injury. An ambulance took the patient to the helicopter landing zone at the Anne Arundel Community College.

The victim’s head injuries were serious enough that the man had to be medevac’d to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, Bramble says.

Resident Erin Gruver was there at Round Bay’s pier when the patient arrived by water. Fire officials told him the department chose that pier because it was familiar to rescue crews from their time spent training at the Round Bay beach.

It’s not the first time this area of the Severn River has seen the danger of private trams, known to some as funiculars. In 2013, a 69-year-old man in Arnold died after falling from a private tram on his Severn River property when police say its cable snapped.

-Meg Walburn Viviano