Crews describe harrowing ravine rescue of toddler

SOUTH WALES, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local toddler is recovering from injuries he sustained Tuesday evening when he fell down a nearly 100-foot ravine at Emery Park.

First responders from several agencies were called to the Erie County park at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday. They found the boy, who is 2 and a half, was found at the bottom of the mostly shale ravine with other adults attending to him.

Crews used hoists and a basket to lift him to the surface, where he was taken via ambulance to a site and eventually flown by Mercy Flight to Women and Children’s Hospital. His condition wasn’t known late Wednesday, although authorities said he only had lacerations to his head.

The boy was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

Upon arrival, they said they assured the injured toddler and adults who were with him, they were doing everything they could, as fast as possible.

“The majority of the conversation that was going on was how long is this going to take,” said Mark Hartley, a rescue technician with the East Aurora Fire Department. “You know, we’ve been here for a long time. And people have to understand that what we’re doing makes makes it for everybody.

Officials also said they weren’t sure what injuries the boy had. But they assumed the worst, given the height from which he fell.

“We did not have a definitive status on the boy’s condition,” said Scott Patronik, Erie County’s chief of special services. “But with the mechanisms of injury and fall of approximately hundred feet, it’s we took this to be a very serious injury.

“A lot of caution was taken because of the mechanisms of this fall,” Patronik added. “There was a high probability of a spinal type injury, so a lot of care had to be taken as this toddler was packaged up on a backboard, put in a litter and carried out, because at that point, it was getting very treacherous because it was starting to get dark.”

Hartley handled most of the rigging for the series of hoists.

“Anything that we do, high and go rescue wise and using ropes, is a dangerous thing,” he said. “I mean we’re sticking our neck out for the benefit of the patient. We don’t want to have any mishaps, or we don’t want to start over from scratch again because that takes extra time.”

Officials say the situation could have been much worse, but fate and skill prevailed.

“I think he’s lucky, I think we’re all lucky,” Patronik said. “We all breathed a sigh relief last night when he was packaged up and we are putting him in the ambulance and he was still crying and conscious and you see him to be alert to his surroundings. We were all — the rescuers — when he left, we all give each other high-fives. Just really, really happy.

County officials are once again urging the public to enjoy local parks. But when some of them feature environments with ravines or other difficult terrain, visitors are asked to use extra caution.


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