2016-01-06 / Front Page

Another Breakneck Rescue

By Eric Gross

It’s getting to be a pattern that emergency responders dread, and a New Year’s Eve rescue from mountainous terrain in Philipstown highlighted the issue again and kept firefighters, police and EMS personnel busy for hours.

In the end, rescuers rappelled the victims down some 80 feet to a trail below.

The saga began when Putnam’s 9-1-1 Center in Carmel received a call from a Hyde Park man advising that he, his 11 year old daughter and the family’s two dogs were trapped on a ledge between a quarry and the Cornish Trail across from Little Stony Point – as nightfall approached, an especially dangerous time to be in unfamiliar and treacherous terrain as temperatures drop.

Cold Spring firefighters were summoned. Chief Joshua DiNardo, incident commander, said the duo was out hiking and after “bushwhacking through the woods, they became isolated on a narrow cliff with nowhere to turn.”

DiNardo summoned mutual aid and the North Highlands FD responded along with the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, a State Police chopper and the Orange County Rope and Rescue Team.

DiNardo explained that after the chopper spotted the stranded hiking party, the “rope team came in from above and after reaching the man and his daughter, rappelled them some 80 feet down from the ledge to a trail, where fire crews were awaiting to escort the family to safety.”

DiNardo said the teen was “cold and frightened” but neither father nor daughter was injured. Emergency crews were also unscathed despite the darkness and treacherous footing.

The rescue was the latest in a series of dramatic saves which took place last year along the Hudson Highlands from Garrison all the way to North Highlands. The rescues – at least four in recent months, two of them in succeeding weeks – have spotlighted overuse of the region’s trails, particularly the dangerous Breakneck Ridge trail.

Meanwhile, state resources are not adequate to address potential overuse, let alone the need for regular rescues. And, work continues on the Fjord Trail, which is to link Beacon and Cold Spring along the Hudson River. Slated to cost up to $32 million, it is virtually certain to increase the number of hikers visiting the area, perhaps dramatically.

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