BIRMINGHAM, Ohio – Two teenagers were rescued on Saturday afternoon, after falling 75 feet from a steep cliff into a ravine in the treacherous Vermilion River Valley.
Firefighters in Erie County’s Florence Township were called to the Schoepfle Garden Metropark in Birmingham, after friends of the 15-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy called 911.
Township Fire Chief Bill Rennie told Fox 8, “One of them dropped a cell phone, went down to retrieve it, slipped. The second young man tried to grab the young lady and apparently they slipped and slid over the bank.”
Rescue crews face a number of obstacles to get to the injured teens, because access is limited by steep cliffs and loose shale. Fortunately, the fire department purchased rope and rigging equipment a decade ago, in anticipation of just such an emergency.
“We tied ropes off to the trees, we had a couple guys get in their rescue harnesses, repel down, and we set up secondary lines and we lowered our Stokes baskets and our backboards down, packaged them up and we put the victims in the Stokes basket,” said Chief Rennie. “And then when we hoist them up, we hoist them up head first, so they’re coming up vertical, which was kind of a challenge because you’re got roots, you’ve got shale bank that was eroding as we were trying to bring them up.”
It took more than an hour to pull them up, and they were then life-flighted to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
“15-year-old young lady had a broken arm, and a possible broken collarbone”, said Chief Rennie. “The 16-year-old young man, he has a broken arm, pretty bad fracture to his left arm, and he’s got a laceration to his spleen. Somebody was looking out for them that day, really, you know so we’re very fortunate.”
The boy is listed in critical condition at Metro, and the girl is in fair condition.