A young tourist is lucky to be alive after he plummeted off a bluff at Rock Island State Park while hiking with friends Sunday afternoon.
The man, identified only as a 20-year-old Hendersonville resident, was airlifted from the park just after 6 p.m. Sunday, an hour-and-a-half after his harrowing fall
“He and others were hiking in the Blue Hole area when he got too close to a ledge and fell 25 feet from the bluff,” said park manager Damon Graham of the late-afternoon accident. “They had gotten off trail. We recommend all visitors stay on the marked trails for safety.”
The hiker suffered serious leg injuries, requiring an airlift given his remote location.
“It’s a miracle the fall didn’t kill him,” Graham said. “He landed on solid rock.”
Graham said park rangers and ambulance personnel fought the terrain to pull the victim from the site of the fall so he could be airlifted.
“It was a very tough carry out,” Graham admitted, explaining why it was 90 minutes after the accident before they could get him loaded on a chopper. “And, right after we had him loaded we got a report of another fall, this one on the other side of the park.”
As a result of the accident, Graham urges hikers to use caution and stay on marked trails when enjoying the day at Rock Island State Park.
“Always watch your footing and don’t try to go above your ability,” he advised, adding those hiking the gulch below the dam should also be weary of when water will be released so they do not become trapped there. “And whatever you do, don’t climb on the waterfalls. That’s very dangerous.”