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US seaman trying to save companion is rescued from volcano

April 15, 1985

NAPLES, Italy (AP) _ Rescue teams using winches and steel cables Monday pulled an American sailor from the deep crater of Mount Vesuvius, where he had become trapped the day before while trying to save a friend.

The friend was killed falling into the crater, the Navy said.

″A combination of wind, thick fog and a lack of light″ prevented the Italian and American rescue teams from reaching the sailor until 6:30 a.m., a U.S. military spokesman said.

Brett Jacobs, 22, a seaman from Kansas City, Kan., was taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Naples, ″shaken up and suffering from exposure,″ said the spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Skip Calvert of the Navy support facility at Naples.

Jacobs climbed down the jagged slope of the dormant volcano Sunday afternoon to help a fellow seaman who fell onto a ledge 350 feet below while on a sightseeing tour.

A police official who directed the rescue described the operation ″a real delicate job. ... A strong wind was blowing and the ground was soft in many spots and the terrain extremely hazardous to negotiate.″ The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Calvert said the other seaman was dead when Jacobs reached him, and the slope was too steep the climb back up. Jacobs stayed warm overnight by moving to a spot heated by a steam vent, he added.

Italian firemen pulled out the body of the dead seaman, aided by dozens of policemen and some crew members from the frigate USS Edward McDonnell, on which both men served, Calvert said.

The dead man’s identity was being withheld until his family is notified.

Jacobs and the other man were with a sightseeing group. Patricia Hooks, an aide to Calvert, said Jacobs’ friend was walking on the edge of the volcano Sunday afternoon and dropped his knapsack into the crater. When he tried to climb down to retrieve it, he slipped and fell to his death, she said.

Jacobs asked the others in the tour group to notify police and climbed into the crater to help the other man, she said.

The 4,203-foot volcano is slightly more than seven miles southeast of Naples. The outer wall, Monte Somma, is the remainder of a 2.4-mile-wide crater that collapsed after the famous eruption that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in the year 79.

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