Teen recovering from 50-foot fall

By John Peters - jpeters@mtairynews.com

A teen-ager is recovering today after falling 50 feet from a ledge at Pilot Mountain State Park Sunday evening.

John Shelton, Surry County Emergency Services director, said the 17-year-old female slipped off the edge of a trail, taking a 50-foot tumble below.

She and her companions were on Three Big Bear Gulley Trail, the scene of similar accidents.

“That area she fell in is an area where we answer calls a lot. It’s a frequent call location for falls,” he said, adding he believes local EMS officials responded to six or seven such falls last year. This is the first one in 2017.

“It’s just a steep ledge she fell from. There are warning signs all through there to tell people to stay away from the edge,” he said before labeling the incident “Just a freak accident.”

She fell around 5 p.m., with park rangers quickly arriving on the scene, followed by rescuers. Shelton said Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad arrived on the scene to treat the victim and get her to safety, with Pinnacle Fire and Rescue serving as back-up.

“Pilot Rescue did a fantastic job of getting her out of there,” he said.

He explained they used what is called a Stokes Basket, which is a wire or plastic cage-like stretcher. Once the victim is secured and strapped into the basket, they set up a rigging system and pull the victim up the ledge, with rescue personnel accompanying the basket as it’s pulled up the embankment..

“Pilot Rescue is trained very well in it, they are very well-versed in that and they do an excellent job,” he said,.

The victim, whom Shelton did not identify because she is a minor, was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where she was listed in stable condition.

He said federal regulations prevent him from releasing any details on her condition, though several media outlets — quoting unnamed sources — reported she had multiple broken bones, as well as some cuts.

He did say that, contrary to some reports, the hiker was at no time lost, nor did rescuers have to mount a search operation.

By John Peters