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Man rescued after fall into the Gulf

By:  Star Beacon - Margie Trax Page

ASHTABULA — Two people may have saved a man’s life Tuesday afternoon, after they witnessed a man in his mid-50s fall over the steep embankment of the Ashtabula River Gulf, Ashtabula fire engineer Stephen Chase said.

“They were gathering scrap in the vicinity and saw the man fall,” Chase said. “Had they not seen him and called for help, the man may not have been found in time.”

The man fell about 40 feet down a 50-degree slope, hitting the jagged rocks and debris all the way down, Chase said.

“He really fell quite a ways and was pretty banged up for it. Actually, he is more injured than we first thought,” he said.

Six firefighters repelled down the steep gulf embankment to rescue the victim. Using a flexible stretcher to lift the victim out the Gulf, the firefighters used a rope rig of pulleys to lift the victim and an accompanying firefighter to safety, from which he was transported to the Ashtabula County Medical Center by Community Care Ambulance, Chase said.

“We were very efficient in this rescue. From start to finish, it only took us about 40 minutes to get the victim out of the Gulf,” Chase said. “The thing is, we have a rope-rescue refresher training next week.”

Chase said people don’t consider the danger of the Gulf embankment, even when just standing at the top of it.

“Years of dumping yard waste and trash have led to edges that are severely undercut,” Chase said. “Those areas are prone to sudden collapse. The danger of a fall down these embankments is made worse by falling debris,” Chase said.

The victim fell on a section of the embankment along Main Avenue, where steps and a safe walking trail once were maintained but which now are closed.

“A number of people have fallen at that particular section of embankment. It looks more approachable than other places because of the old steps and tiny path, but maybe that is what makes it so dangerous,” Chase said.

Chase said the Community Care employees and Ashtabula police officers ran the rescue smoothly, but the credit for the rescue goes to the quick actions of the unidentified people who saw the victim fall.

“Really, with the brush and debris in the Gulf, it would be hard to find someone unless you are looking,” Chase said. “The man might still be lying there if it weren’t for those people. It is nice to know that some people are still willing to help a neighbor in distress.”

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