Commonwealth Journal

October 8, 2013

Rescuers find teen who fell 250 feet down cliff

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Keith Price spent his Sunday evening not as a day of rest, but scaling the side of a steep bluff in harrowing conditions order to save the life of a teenage boy.
That’s after the 13-year-old slipped off the cliffside and fell approximately 250 feet, landing on a small ledge only a couple of hundred feet from the water below.
“It was really treacherous to get to him,” said Price, assistant chief of the Parkers Mill Fire Department.
The juvenile — whose name was not released — was apparently hiking in an area near Cumberland Drive off of Ky. 90 when the incident happened, according to Price. The incident likely took place around 6 p.m., and emergency responders got the call at about 7 p.m.
“He apparently just got too close to the edge,” said Price. “It was really slick.”
Price described the incline as being “almost vertical,” with nowhere to actually stand; “There was barely enough room to hang on to a tree.”
Price said that responders took a couple of boats and went to the foot of the cliff, visible from the Waitsboro Recreation Area, then used ropes to scale the hill to reach the boy.
“We had to find him first,” said Price. “Once we did, we brought EMS by boat, and scaled the hill to get up. ... You pull yourself from tree to tree to tree, and do whatever you’ve got to do to get there. It’s hard and dangerous.”
A stokes basket was employed — a rescue device with handles designed to move a patient through slopes and hazardous places — and the boy was brought down to the water, 200 feet below where he’d landed.
“It was easier going down than coming up,” said Price. “It takes a little bit of time, but you take your time and do it right, to where everybody comes home safe.”
Complicating things was the wet weather at the time, which Price described as like “a monsoon.” This made the environment more slick and dangerous for the rescuers, presenting an even greater need to be careful and methodical.
The whole rescue took about four hours, said Price, although responders remained on the scene until after midnight.
“Everybody did a great job,” said Price. “The rescue personnel got out safe, with no injuries.”
The boy’s condition was not believed to be life-threatening, according to Price, though he apparently had “some trouble breathing and may have had some broken ribs.” He also complained of leg pain, said Price.
Considering the fall he took, however, the boy’s physical condition could have been much worse, noted Price.
“He was talking to us,” said Price. “We tried to keep him in good spirits until we could get him out, but he talked to us the whole way.”
Due to the weather, AirMeth-ods was not able to fly the youth to Lexington that evening. Though a condition was unavailable due to the unreleased name, Price said the last report he heard indicated that the boy was taken to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital at first, and would later be transported to Lexington by ground.
Responding to the scene were the Parkers Mill, Burnside, Bronston, Ferguson, and Tateville Fire Departments, Somerset-Pulaski County EMS, Somerset-Pulaski County Rescue Squad, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, and Pulaski County Hazmat.