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Woman dead after fall from roof

An unidentified friend of the victim was led to an ambulance. An unidentified friend of the victim was led to an ambulance. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / September 11, 2011

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A woman in her early 20s died last night after falling nearly five stories through a skylight in a South Boston building, police and fire officials said.

A friend of the woman’s called 911 at about 8:30 p.m., saying they had been on a roof when the woman fell. But the friend did not remember exactly where on the roof they were standing or which shaft the woman fell through, said Ronald Marston, acting deputy fire chief.

The Boston Fire Department began a frantic rescue operation, involving dozens of fire and Boston Emergency Medical Services officials on the roof, in the basement, and on several floors of connected buildings on Summer and A streets, but it took more than an hour to locate her.

“It took a while. The person that was with the victim wasn’t sure where the shaft was located when we first arrived,’’ Marston said. “We were checking the next building until we finally located it and located the shaft, and we found out it was a blind shaft and we started to breach the walls before we finally reached her.’’

The woman had fallen from the seventh-story roof through a blind shaft, landing on the third floor of 281 Summer St., said Steve MacDonald, a Fire Department spokesman.

Rescuers had to cut several holes in walls as they tried to find her.

The woman, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The roofline has several connected buildings and is dotted with shafts, utilities, and skylights, MacDonald said. There is no roof deck or communal space on the roof.

“The roof was pitch black,’’ MacDonald said. “It’s not the kind of roof that you go on to get a good view.’’

Two of the friends who were with the victim had to be taken away in an ambulance after the woman’s body was found.

Boston police are investigating. Police did not say how the group had gotten on the roof or why it was there.

“Everything from how they got on the roof to how the female fell through the shaft is all under investigation,’’ said Deputy Superintendent Alfredo Andres, at the scene.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globe_guilfoil.