AMELIA, VA. (WTVR)--Firefighters tell us Virginia State Police and the Amelia County Sheriff’s Department are investigating a bizarre incident Sunday night off Jetersville Road.
The mystery involves a 23-year-old man falling 35 feet down a well, who then used his jacket to set off a smoke signal.
Brian Burdge's shoes are still at the bottom of that Amelia well. He's now recovering at VCU Medical Center from smoke inhalation suffered after he deliberately set his coat on fire to get firefighters’ attention.
"I noticed smoke,” said David Weyant. “I said, ‘Fire department!’ and heard a faint cry for help."
Firefighters had initially responded to an abandoned church that was on fire on Jetersville Road. When they arrived, the church was still on fire, so firefighters walked around the property to find the best spot to make an attack.
That's when Weyant, a volunteer firefighter, looked in the well.
"I just had a gut feeling and thought it was weird that smoke was down the well," Weyant said.
Weyant was lowered to Burdge, and then the Amelia man was hoisted up and out rushed to Skinquarter, where he was loaded onto a helicopter with serious injuries.
"I just didn't know if my son was going to make it," said Mary Burdge.
Burdge, a volunteer firefighter herself, says it was gut-wrenching knowing her son was in a well, pointing out it was the second time in two weeks he had suffered major injuries.
"He got angry a couple of weeks ago and smashed a camper window, lacerating an artery," she said.
There are a number of questions surrounding the well episode, and family members and investigators hope to get some answers soon
"I have no idea how he got down there,” said Burdge. “I pray they'll find out."
Late Tuesday Burdge said her son was now breathing on his own.
She's hoping he can come home soon, and come clean about what happened outside the well and how he managed to fall in.