SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. (WHDH) — A University of Massachusetts student fell off a cliff at Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in Deerfield on Saturday.
The man fell nearly 80 feet down the mountain before coming to a stop.
“I witnessed him come down the mountain and I could hear him hitting the trees,” said David Behilo, who lives nearby.
Behilo was looking at birds through his binoculars late Saturday afternoon when he saw something go wrong with a group of hikers on the ledge.
“He started sliding and then he slid probably 30 feet, and went off a cliff,” said Behilo.
Behilo immediately called 911.
“He wasn’t moving and I could see him. And they were yelling for him. There was no way they were going to climb over the edge and get to him,” said Behilo.
A spontaneous and coordinated rescue effort came together to rescue the hiker. Firefighters, police and EMS responders called in a regional technical rescue team. They carried ropes and a rescue basket through almost a half-mile of thick brush to reach the man and bring him to safety.
“The terrain to get to the patient itself was near vertical, but it was also soft footing because of all the recent rain and snow. So they had the task of hiking up to the patient and once they were with the patient they had the task of packaging the patient and then lowering the patient down safely,” said an official.
The injured hiker, a man in his 20’s, was conscious and talking to his rescuers while they secured him in the rescue basket. They carried him carefully down the mountainside through the thick brush and put him in an ambulance.
Police said the UMass student was hiking with his fraternity brothers. Officials said he suffered serious injuries, but they did not appear to be life-threatening.