Another devastating fall at Adams Creek

| 03 Dec 2015 | 12:10

— A beautiful waterfall in Dingman saw another ugly accident on Nov. 27, when a 13-year old boy out on a hike slipped and fell 50 to 60 feet.

The boy spent six hours in the freezing water at Adams Creek before rescue teams were able to lift him out with ropes and pulleys. A National Park Service head ranger was at the scene within 20 minutes, after carrying his rescue gear 1.5 miles from the parking lot to the scene.

NPS Public Affairs Specialist Kathleen Sandt said the seriousness of the injuries to the boy’s head and, possibly, his neck, along with the likelihood that hypothermia would set in, warranted calling in a helicopter. The boy was carried on a backboard to the parking lot on Route 209, then taken by ambulance to the helipad at the NPS maintenance facility in Dingmans Ferry. From there he was flown to Morristown, N.J.

The extent of his injuries and the progress of his recovery was not immediately known.

“We’re all hoping he’s well, but we don’t have any more information," Sandt said. "After a few days, someone will call and let us know how a victim in doing.”

She said the NPS received the call for help at 12:50 p.m. on Black Friday. The boy was out hiking with a group.

"If you remember, it was very sunny, it was a gorgeous day," she said. "There’s a cliff to the right side of the fall — the higher area — on the path, and he fell 50 to 60 feet down from the top of the falls, and landed on the precipice of the 30-foot falls, partially in the water, which was very cold. He was conscious and talking to the others still up on the path.”

She said the head ranger first on the scene set up a system of ropes and lowered himself to the bottom.

"He provided some medical treatment right there," she said.

The ranger waited with the boy and his group for the rescue teams to arrive over very rough terrain. After he was pulled from the ravine, he needed to be carried back out of the woods.

The ranger spent more than five hours in the water himself.

“He’s my hero right now,” she said.

Responders overwhelmedIn addition to the NPS, other organizations sent rescue teams, including Dingman Township, Delaware Township, Hemlock Farms, Milford Voluntary Fire Department, and Delaware Township and Atlantic Corporation ambulances.

Adams Creek had been closed for about five weeks to repair a bridge and had just recently reopened.

Adams Creek is a natural cataract that attracts cliff-jumpers, many of them drawn to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area by YouTube videos showing people jumping gleefully from the top of the falls to the pool below. Dingman's fire chief, Mark O'Brien, told township supervisor in August that local emergency teams are overwhelmed by injuries in the park, especially at the falls.

In July, a Milford man who fell into the pool at Adams Creek was also flown to Morristown after an arduous rescue. His was only one of several accidents at the site this year.

Sandt said the park service is revising its park management plan and conducting public hearings to get input about how the area should be managed.