Rescuers carried a 28-year-old man more than three miles over rough, often single-file terrain Monday after he fell from a rope swing and fractured his pelvis deep in the Pocket Wilderness at Mowbray Mountain.
Personnel from seven emergency agencies worked for almost eight hours Monday to retrieve the man, who has not been identified. He and a group of friends hiked about a half-mile beyond the closest marked trail to reach the rope swing. His friends called 911 at 3:30 p.m. and reported that he had fallen on some rocks.
Rescuers hiked into the woods and reached the group at 5 p.m., then began the long process of getting the man out of the woods. The terrain slowed their pace to a crawl.
"We had to go over boulders that were 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall," said Hamilton County Emergency Services spokeswoman Amy Maxwell. "We had to use pulley systems, because it was all about securing the patient."
The man was conscious and spoke with responders throughout the rescue. The area was inaccessible to off-road vehicles and could not be reached by helicopter, said Dusten Woodard, assistant chief of the Mowbray Fire Department.
He hiked back and forth five times -- that's 15 miles -- to retrieve supplies for the rescue as it progressed. He said about 40 people assisted, and every person was needed.
"You take a 200-pound person and add another 150 or 200 pounds in equipment, and that's 400 pounds," he said. "The trail was so narrow that at some points only two people could carry the stretcher at a time. It doesn't matter how big or strong you are, in 20 minutes you're completely spent."
The man was taken to Erlanger hospital. No information was available Tuesday on his condition.
Maxwell said that injuries at Pocket Wilderness are not uncommon. In fact, park staff even cleared trees away from the most commonly used swimming holes to discourage rope swings. But this group pushed beyond those cleared trails into unmarked territory, she said.
"We have concerns now that these bikers and explorers are moving further and deeper into the trail to find the next tree available to attach a rope swing," Maxwell said.
The man finally was carried out of the woods about 11 p.m. Woodard said the incident should serve as a warning to other hikers.
"People go in to have fun and they don't realize what all goes into it if they get hurt," he said. "It's not as easy as just calling 911."
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with tips or story ideas.
Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...