Boy rescued after fall on Farley Ledges

  • Members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team prepare to extricate a juvenile male who was rescued after a 15-foot fall on the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Local emergency personnel work to rescue a juvenile male who fell 15-feet at the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team prepare to extricate a juvenile male who was rescued after a 15-foot fall on the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Local emergency personnel check for incoming storms while working to rescue a juvenile male who fell 15 feet at the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Local emergency personnel work to rescue a juvenile male who fell 15 feet at the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team prepare to extricate a juvenile male who was rescued after a 15-foot fall on the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team prepare to extricate a juvenile male who was rescued after a 15-foot fall on the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Local emergency personnel work to rescue a juvenile male who fell 15 feet at the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Local emergency personnel work to rescue a juvenile male who fell 15 feet at the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Erving. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2019 8:43:56 PM

ERVING — A young hiker was rescued after a 15-foot fall on the Farley Ledges around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

The 14-year-old boy was on a camping trip, and was hiking with two other campers about a half a mile into the woods on the red dot trail when the incident occurred, according to Erving Police Chief Chris Blair.

The boy lost his grip on a rope along the ledges used to assist climbers and fell, suffering non-life-threatening injuries, Blair said.

A rescue mission was performed to get the boy out of the woods and onto an ambulance. He was then transported to a nearby hospital.

There were two challenges to the rescue: the terrain and the weather, Erving Fire Chief Philip Wonkka said. Around an hour and a half into the rescue mission, it began to rain heavily.

“There are some parts of the trail that can be fairly steep and it winds you if you’re not used to it,” Wonkka said. “The rain only makes it more difficult.”

Blair said getting an injured person safely down from the ledges is a challenge.

“There is no easy way to get someone down,” Blair said. “We have to carry them out.”

While the teen didn’t have life-threatening injuries, Wonkka said there was an attempt to have him airlifted for treatment. However, the helicopters could not travel given the weather conditions.

A group of about 20 first responders went into the woods and took turns carrying the boy down the trail to the parking lot by the ledges.

At around 5:15 p.m., the boy, who was conscious and alert, was loaded into the ambulance.

The cliffs are not meant for novice climbers or hikers, Blair said.

“It is dangerous for people who are not experienced climbers,” Blair said. “There are other places in Erving, like the Northfield Mountain recreation area or the Erving State Forest that are great spots for any level of hiking.”

The Erving Police Department and Erving, Turners Falls, Greenfield, Orange, South Deerfield, Northfield and Montague Center fire departments responded, as well as the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team. There were also wilderness first responders with experience going to hiking- or fall-related incidents in the woods.

Another tool used by the first responders was Greenfield’s drones, at least until it started raining. Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan said the drone was used to help  maintain the safety of first responders.

“The drones are used to identify hazards in the area and give the area commander an overhead view if needed,” Strahan said during the Wednesday rescue. “Since the party has been located already, the drones are there to assist with responder safety.”

Wonkka said incidents like falls on the mountain “happen more than I would like.”

“There are about three to four falls a year here,” Wonkka said. “But most of the time, the people climbing here are experienced and have some sort of first aid training.”

Blair added that this is the second time this year a young hiker has been injured. Earlier this year, a boy fell about 100 feet in around the same location. Blair said the hiker was “lucky to be alive.”

“We want people to be able to hike in town,” Blair said. “We also want them to be able to do so safely.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.




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