BURKE CO., NC – A dramatic rescue in the North Carolina mountains. Crews pulled Jackson Depew, a St. Louis man to safety after he fell in Linville Gorge.
Dave Faherty has the story.
Hours Before The Rescue Unfolded In The Linville Gorge Dispatchers Got This Frantic 9-1-1 Call From A Fellow Climber Who Saw The Fall.
I’m on the side of the mountain and I just watch a climber take about a 40 foot fall. Had a pretty bad impact. He’s pretty banged up I mean I watched him he hit hard.
We know tonight it took nearly three hours to get through the rugged terrain and for the first rescuer in burke county to reach the injured climber. You can see Kaleb Nicholson who had repelled down to the four by two foot ledge 200-feet from the bottom.
Kaleb Nicholson, Burke Co. Emergency Services: Biggest thing was where we were gonna put two more people on that rock.
In order to make the rescue, burke county called in the NC hart team. You can see Nicholson in the white shirt and yellow helmet lie over the climber, Jackson Depew, trying to protect him from the down wash of the helicopter. High above the Blackhawk moves closer to the mountainside with the rescuer tethered to a rope 100-feet below. At the last second, Nicholson reaches out guiding the rescuer to the small ledge.
Kaleb Nicholson, Burke Co. Emergency Services: You got a lot going through your mind but luckily the patient was underneath us where he could be protected. You can see in the video where I leaned over his head.
Nicholson says Depew fell after climbing up from the bottom approximately 250-feet when two of his rope anchors gave way. After placing him carefully in a basket the rescuer and the 23-year old lift off the mountainside.
Kaleb Nicholson, Burke Co. Emergency Services: He was pretty silent I believe he was getting pretty scared about the whole ordeal.
Minutes later it was Nicholson’s turn to be lifted off the mountainside with a fellow rescuer and hoisted to the chopper above. It is a day he says he won’t ever forget.
It was the ride of my life for sure.
Depew is now recovering in a hospital. Another climber was cited for interfering with the rescue operation.