SHEFFIELD -- A trip along the Appalachian Trail turned tragic on Wednesday when a Delaware man hiking with his brother died after plunging 35 feet at Race Brook Falls near the Connecticut border.
Around 1:45 p.m., Sheffield Police and Fire departments responded to a call that the 28-year-old victim, who police didn’t immediately identify, had fallen near a treacherous section of the falls 112 miles off Route 41.
Authorities say the younger 22-year-old brother was hiking ahead of his sibling and wasn’t hurt. The two men had spent the night at a nearby lean-to along the Appalachian Trail.
Sheffield Police Officer Eric R. Munson III was among the first of eventually 40-50 rescuers from seven communities on the scene, half of whom climbed the steep hillside. They arrived to find a nearby group of students from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., who were trying to save the man’s life, according to Munson.
"They had just finished their wilderness first aid training and were attending to the victim," he said.
As emergency medical personnel began to bring the severely injured hiker down to safety, he began to succumb to his injuries, going into cardiac arrest at one point. As the young man fought to stay alive, Sheffield fire officials decided to call in a New York State Police rescue helicopter in an attempt to airlift the hiker off the hillside in order to quickly get him to a nearby hospital.
However, the victim died before the emergency crews could attempt the rescue. Getting the hiker off the hillside took about five hours.
"It was an extraordinary effort by everyone involved," said Sheffield Fire Chief Rick Boardman.
While the hardiest of hikers are attracted to the fall’s cascading water and serene wading pools, there’s danger lurking behind that natural beauty, he said.
"The ravine is treacherous, especially the part where [the victim] fell as it was the steepest -- the worst," noted Boardman.
In addition to Sheffield, fire and emergency personnel from Egremont, Great Barrington, along with Falls Village, Sharon, Norfolk, Cornwall and North Canaan, all in Conn ecticut, assisted in the rescue. A Life Net helicopter from New York was also on the scene, prepared to airlift the hiker to the nearest hospital trauma center.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.