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MailTribune.com
  • Rescue on the Rim

    A high-angle recovery team brings a seriously injured New York man to safety at Crater Lake National Park, but why he jumped over a protective wall remains unclear
  • The 27-year-old New York man who slid headfirst 300 feet down the Crater Lake caldera Monday morning had jumped a safety barrier near the Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Rim Village, park officials said.
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  • The 27-year-old New York man who slid headfirst 300 feet down the Crater Lake caldera Monday morning had jumped a safety barrier near the Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Rim Village, park officials said.
    Eric Brimlow of Syracuse, N.Y., was with friends at about 10:30 a.m. when he stepped on top of a rock wall barrier on the path to the overlook. Then, for unknown reasons, he jumped across a gap separating the wall from the rim, which is covered in snow. Unable to stop himself, he began sliding down the steep, slippery bank until he was caught in some trees.
    Brimlow was in critical condition late Tuesday at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, hospital officials said.
    It took four hours to rescue Brimlow by stretcher from the caldera using a park ranger-led rope team trained in high-angle rescue, said Marsha McCabe, spokeswoman for the national park. Nearly 50 park personnel were involved in the effort, she said.
    Brimlow, who slipped in and out of consciousness, was treated at the scene, then airlifted to RVMC by Mercy Flights, said Rodney Blake, a Mercy Flights representative. RVMC spokesman Grant Walker said he could not release details of Brimlow's injuries.
    McCabe said she didn't know why Brimlow jumped and attributed the decision to "just being young." She said he was stopped from sliding farther down the slope when he became caught between two trees.
    McCabe said regardless of season and conditions, the rock wall is hazardous and off-limits.
    "That's a dangerous spot with or without snow, and sliding is always a possibility," McCabe said.
    Nick Atkins, dining room manager at Crater Lake Lodge, was coming to work when he was passed by ambulances, and then saw about 50 onlookers watching park rangers setting up their ropes for the rescue.
    "I just don't understand how anybody could lean far enough forward they could slip. But things happen," said Atkins.
    A ranger from the overlook spotted Brimlow against a tree, and Chief Ranger Pete Reinhardt tied off from a tree and rappelled 100 feet down a ravine. Jason Ramsdell, ranger operations supervisor at the park, joined him and they rigged more ropes to another tree to move down and across the loose rock slope.
    Reinhardt found Brimlow unconscious but breathing, pinned against a tree at the base of a 5-foot cliff. Reinhardt tied Brimlow in and with ranger Christina Sheppard tried to hoist him to the top of the cliff, where the ground was flat. But they needed help.
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