Florida police rescue artist who got stuck while painting water tower mural

DUNEDIN, Fla. — A Florida artist hired to paint a turtle mural on a water tower was stuck in his basket for an hour Friday when the pulley system he was using stopped working.

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Tom Stovall, a “wide-scale muralist” according to his website, called city officials in Dunedin at about 1:30 p.m. EDT when he was unable to descend from the Curlew water tower, Sue Burness, the city’s director of communications, told the Tampa Bay Times.

The motorized pulley had stopped working, Burness told the newspaper.

Stovall said he was suspended 150 feet in the air until first responders arrived.

“The motor froze is the only explanation that I’ve got and it was getting electricity, you could hear the hum,” Stovall told WFTS-TV.

Stovall, who was not injured, was lowered to ground level at about 3:30 p.m., Burness told the Times.

Stovall is beautifying the water tower, which was built during the 1960s, WFTS reported. He is painting Henry the gopher tortoise and will later paint a sea turtle named Sylvia on the other side of the structure, according to the television station.

Burness said that Stovall should have Henry completed around mid-June, and then he will begin working on the artwork for Sylvia.

“We’re kind of smiling about this, because when we did an interview earlier this week with ABC, he said he loves attention,” Burness told the Times. “And boy, did today fulfill that for him.”