By Nathan MaybergBUSHKILL — A 27-year-old thrill-seeker leapt off a 45-foot cliff and into unconsciousness on Sunday, the latest casualty in a burgeoning cliff-jumping craze at Adams Creek.
The Milford man suffered life-threatening injuries after leaping, at about 5 p.m., into the pool at the base of the main waterfall on Adams Creek. The popular summertime spot is located in Bushkill, in the Delaware River Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Kathleen Sandt, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, said it took more than three hours for park rangers and EMTs with the Delaware Valley Township Ambulance Corp to carry the injured man more than a mile to a waiting ambulance. The ambulance took him to a landing area, where a helicopter airlifted him to Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.
The man was in and out of consciousness during the ordeal, Sandt said. He suffered spinal injuries and "potentially severe internal bleeding," she said.
His injuries were caused by impact with the water, she said.
This is the fifth time since April that park rangers have rescued cliff jumpers at Adams Creek. Jumping from cliffs into water, or climbing the cliffs around waterfalls, are "strictly prohibited," Sandt said. Violators face fines of about $400.
Sandt said cliff jumping has been happening more often.
"We've never had five in a four-month period," she said.
'Zero tolerance' for jumpersAdams Creek isn't the only site in the area for these kinds of stunts. Hacker's Falls, Hornbeck's Creek and Child's Park are also popular with cliff jumpers. As a result, Sandt said, park rangers have posted more signs at waterfalls warning visitors that jumping is prohibited. And they are patrolling more, and have adopted a "zero tolerance policy."
Park staff is also stepping up parking enforcement, towing away vehicles parked in prohibited areas.
An approximately half-mile area on Route 209 is posted with "no parking" signs, Sandt said. The overflow of cars is creating a parking hazard, she said.
Although the latest rescue was a local man, the park is popular with a much wider public.
"A lot more out-of-town folks" have been visiting the falls of late, Sandt said. They're "coming from great distances because they've seen it on social media."
A search on Facebook and YouTube reveals a multitude of jump videos taken at Adams Creek. Jumpers seem to seek not only the momentary thrill, but also the excitement of sharing their stunts with the world.