Bash Bish Falls State Park is a popular destination in southern Berkshire County, boasting the highest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts. Abutting Bash Bish Falls state park is Taconic State Park in Copake Falls New York. Most of the scenic area, as well as the falls themselves are located in Mount Washington Massachusetts. The town of Mount Washington does not have a fire department, with fire protection and rescue services provided by the Egremont Fire Department though a mutual aid agreement.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team (WMTRT) was activated per request of the Egremont Fire Department for a report of a party who had fallen from a cliff into Bash Bish Falls on 28 July, 2017 at 22:05. Initial reports indicated that a 21-year-old male was witnessed falling from the top of a waterfall and had not been seen or heard from since. Egremont Fire, along with fire department resources from Copake and Hudson New York, and the Columbia County New York Sheriff’s Department dive team were on scene conducting search operations in the stream above and below the falls. First arriving WMTRT members assessed the situation and began to organize for what would turn into a protracted incident.
WWLP News was first to report that dozens of rescuers from two states located, but were unable to retrieve, the body of a 21-year-old Aiden Campion-Pratt of Ghent, N.Y.,. Rescuers began searching for him Friday night when he fell off the rock at about 7:30 p.m. The Berkshire Eagle shortly later reported that around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, emergency personnel from ultimately 13 agencies discovered in a section of the falls that rescuers determined was too risky for bringing the young man to the surface.
CBS6Albany listed the agencies involved in the 48 hour effort as the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Columbia County, New York Sheriff’s Department, the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office , the Pittsfield Fire Department, the Egremont Fire Department, the Southern Berkshire Ambulance squad, state troopers assigned to the Lee barracks, the New York State Police, the Copake, New York Fire Department, the Columbia County, New York Fire Coordinator, the Berkshire County Fire Coordinator and Fastracs Excavating of Red Hook, New York.
The Times Union noted that rescuers began searching for his body Friday evening and located him about 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Condolences from the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue team go out to Aiden’s family and friends.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team assisted the Great Barrington Fire Department during a rescue of a 71-year-old man at Monument Mountain Reservation who could not make his way back down the mountain.
According to a news report in the Berkshire Edge, on Wednesday, July 12, shortly before noon, the Great Barrington department responded to Monument Mountain Reservation for a report of an ill elderly man at the summit. Upon arrival, first responders learned that the elderly man, who was hiking with his son, had collapsed at the top of the Squaw Peak Trail.
Great Barrington firefighters, accessed the area using a UTV. Also assisting in the effort was the Egremont Fire Department, Sheffield Fire Department, Monterey Fire Department.
The newspaper reported that crews reached the hiker within 45 minutes. The man was treated by medics and stabilized. Due to his location on the mountain, he had to be carried across boulders and lowered down steep embankments using rope systems before reaching an area of the trail accessible to UTVs, which were used to bring him down the rest of the way.
Firefighters reached the bottom of the mountain by 2:30 p.m. The man was transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance to an area hospital in stable condition. All rescue crews cleared the scene by 3 p.m.
WMTRT assisted with three separate rescues during August of 2016 in the same area.
It was a busy August in the Berkshires for WMTRT with a total of four callouts. WMTRT assisted the Great Barrington Fire Department at the Squaw Peak area of Monument Mountain on August 29 to rescue an injured hiker, the third such response to that area in recent weeks. This most recent incident was for a hiker with an ankle injury. According to a press release issued by GBFD, the man was located on a very steep portion of the mountain and he was lowered approximately 150 feet down the slope where he was then moved to a waiting UTV.
WMTRT members assisting at the August 30 incident
Earlier in the month, WMTRT members worked with multiple agencies nearby in the recovery of a fatality. The news report detailing the August 13th, 2016 incident is below.
A third recent rescue on August 5th, 2016, involved a patient without serious injury, also on Monument Mountain. This incident was also supported by the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Volunteer Ambulance Squad and Sheffield Fire Department. The patient was transported to Berkshire Medical Center.
According to Wikipedia, Monument Mountain is a 500-acre reservation located in Great Barrington, centered on the 1,642 feet Squaw Peak. Over 20,000 visitors a year hike the trail system. Theses photos and video give a good sense of how challenging technical rescues on this steep terrain can be.
notice the steep terrain on the east side of Monument Mountain
view from the top of Squaw Peak
Finally, while it didn’t make local news outlets, WMTRT also assisted Lanesborough Fire Department on August 12th, with the rescue of a hiker who sustained an ankle injury on the March Cataract Trail near the Sperry Road campground. WMTRT members helped with evacuation of the patient approximately one half mile using the stokes basket with wheel attachment while other TRT members set up 2 short low slope systems. Mass DCR Rangers, Williamstown forest wardens were also on scene providing support. The patient was transported by Village Ambulance. The entire operation lasted more than three hours.
From the Berkshire Eagle
By Eoin Higgins:
GREAT BARRINGTON >> Emergency workers rescued a hiker on Monument Mountain who had broken her ankle late Friday morning.
The 22-year-old woman from Egremont was injured on the Devil's Pulpit section of the trail, according to Fire Chief Charles Burger. Burger said the woman was hiking on a particularly steep section of the trail at the time.
"We had to use a ropes system to get her down from the trail because it's so steep," Burger said. "Then we got her down to a four-wheeler."
The four-wheeler was provided by responding Sheffield Fire Department, which provided backup for Great Barrington.
Southern Berkshire Ambulance was on scene to transport the woman to Berkshire Medical Center. Western Massachusetts Rescue was at the trailhead to assist as well, said County Coordinator and Dalton Fire Chief Gerry Cahalan.
The emergency call came in at 11:21 a.m., Burger said. The operation was concluded by 1:45 p.m.
The hiker's dog was brought home by her parents.
Monument Mountain is located west of Route 7 in Great Barrington.
From MassLIVE - January 8, 2016:
Hampden DA's office: Missing man found dead in Chester
Chester police and a Massachusetts State Police K-9 unit found 55-year-old Harold Phelps in the Westfield River on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2016. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team "extracted him from the water due to freezing," said Jim Leydon, spokesman for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
By Conor Berry | email@example.com
on January 08, 2016 at 12:05 AM, updated January 08, 2016 at 12:32 AM
CHESTER — A man missing since the weekend has been found dead in the northwestern Hampden County town of Chester, according to authorities. Chester police and a Massachusetts State Police K-9 unit found 55-year-old Harold Phelps in the Westfield River on Thursday afternoon. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team had to extract him from the water due to freezing conditions, Jim Leydon, spokesman for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, said Thursday night.
Police did not immediately release the official cause of death, but preliminary investigation suggests Phelps may have been walking along a train trestle when he fell into the water. Foul play is not suspected, according to authorities, who continue to investigate.
Published in the Greenfield Recorder:
By CHRIS CURTIS
Monday, September 21, 2015
A truck driver was in critical condition and firefighters and hazardous material crews worked all day to clean up a spill of acidic aluminum sulfate after a tractor-trailer tanker left the road and crashed down the Factory Hollow embankment by Fall Brook early Monday morning.
The driver, identified by police as Leo Murphy, 58, of Billerica, was in critical condition Monday night at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
The section of highway between Adams Road in Greenfield and the Gill-Montague Bridge in Gill remained closed until about 7 a.m. today. Both lanes were reopened in time for morning commuting although work was expected to continue, which might cause delays, police said.
At 7:20 p.m. Monday, Greenfield Deputy Police Chief Mark Williams said the drained tank had been hauled up the bank onto the road.
Greenfield Police Lt. William Gordon said a passerby called 911 at 3:57 a.m. and police and firefighters found a tanker truck rolled over the embankment at the curve, the driver trapped inside.
The driver remained trapped for about two hours as firefighters worked to free him with “every piece of rescue equipment that we own,” said Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan. Strahan said the tanker was on its side and heavily damaged.
The driver was alert during the extrication. He was brought back up to Route 2 with a Stokes rescue basket and ropes as a helicopter ambulance circled overhead.
Gordon said the driver’s injuries were serious and he was taken to a Worcester hospital by Life Flight helicopter once freed.
Monday night, Gordon confirmed the driver was still alive and was expected to be transferred to Mass General Hospital.
“We have multiple things going on right now, the first thing is we had a rescue to perform, ... there is an ongoing small leak of a hazardous material, aluminium sulfate, it has a high acid concentration. We have it contained but we have not stopped the leak,” Strahan said at 9:30 a.m.
Strahan said the material is dangerous if touched, but is not an inhalation danger and nobody in the area was in danger or had to be evacuated.
Aluminum sulfate is a chemical compound used chiefly in papermaking, water purification and sewage treatment. Williams said the truck, owned by Billerica-based Roy Brothers, was hauling the acid from Adams to another Massachusetts town east of Greenfield for wastewater treatment.
Some of the material made it into the nearby Fall Brook, Strahan said. Strahan said the state hazardous material team was helping with the removal of the truck and product, with environmental clean-up companies Clean Harbors Environmental Services and Western Mass. Environmental, the state Department of Environmental protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Strahan said stopping the leak and removing the tanker from the embankment alone should take 12 hours. The crash also shattered a utility pole and took down phone and power lines. Power had been restored in the area by 9 a.m., but Verizon phone and Eversource power crews were waiting to finish repairs.
Greenfield police are in charge of the accident investigation, assisted by state police. Gordon said there was no immediate sign of the cause. “Not even brake marks. It appears the truck drove directly into the guardrail without being able to maneuver,” he said.
Another tractor-trailer rolled over in the same spot Sept. 4, also in the early morning hours. The driver in that accident was trapped by power lines for about 90 minutes, but reportedly escaped with an injured hand.
Police diverted westbound truck traffic aiming for Interstate 91 up Main Road in Gill to Route 10 in Northfield and over to Route 63, Gordon said.
Traffic backed up down the Turners Falls Road hill into Turners Falls at rush hour, drivers evidently bound for Route 2 east.
Factory Hollow Road was open for residents of the road only Monday, with residents asked to check in with the police at the Adams Road and Route 2 intersection.
An unrelated accident added to the scene Monday morning on the Gill end, where a tractor trailer leaked what firefighters said was nonhazardous red ink.
Broadcast on WesternMass News:
The Lanesborough Fire Dept. responded to Mount Greylock for a hiker with a laceration on his leg from an ax.
Lanesborough Chief Charles Durfee said the call came in around 12:30 p.m. First responders arrived on scene at 1:05 p.m.
The victim was about 2.5 miles in the woods on the Old Adams Rd. Trail.
"We could only get the ATVs in about a mile on the trail. We had to hike in the last 1.5 miles," said Durfee.
The Western Mass Tech Rescue Team was called in to assist.
Durfee says the team used three ATVs to run people and equipment in the first mile.
11 Lanesborough firefighters and 16 Western Mass. Tech Rescue Team members were on scene.
The hike was transported to Berkshire Medical Center.
Published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette:
By GREG SAULMON
Saturday, August 15, 2015
ASHFIELD — A 13-year-old boy was taken to Baystate Medical Center by helicopter after an 80-foot slide down a steep slope at Chapel Brook reservation on Williamsburg Road Saturday afternoon.
Deputy Chief Adam Baker of the Conway Fire Department said the boy slid from an area at the top of Pony Mountain.
“It was a slide, and not a straight fall,” Baker said.
Ashfield Fire Chief Del Haskins said the boy was semiconscious when rescuers reached him and started coming to as they started packaging him to get him off the mountain.
“Looked like he was badly hurt. We’re not doctors or anything, but falling 80 feet off a ledge, it could be anything,” Haskins said.
Haskins didn’t know the boy’s condition once he left the mountain and Highland Ambulance had no comment except to confirm their presence.
The incident was reported around 3 p.m., and the response involved high-angle rescue specialists and units from a number of area fire and police departments, including Conway, Ashfield, Goshen, Greenfield, Turners Falls and state police. Members of the Western Massachusetts Tech Rescue Team arrived later.
Greenfield resident Otis Wheeler, who was at the summit at the time of the incident and called 911 to summon first responders, described the victim as a boy of 13 who was hiking with his family. Haskins said the boy was with his parents and brother. He believed they were visiting the area rather than residents, due to their rental car.
“We heard something, and then we heard — I believe the boy’s father — calling out his name,” Wheeler said.
The boy didn’t answer the group’s calls to him, Wheeler said, adding, “We didn’t know if he was OK, or what had happened.”
Another hiker found the boy a short time later, Wheeler said.
“We were very worried, immediately, because we were basically looking at one of the steepest parts — not the very steepest, but probably the second steepest,” Wheeler said of the area where the boy fell.
A 100-foot rock face on Pony Mountain, known as Chapel Ledge, is popular with rock climbers. Wheeler said the boy slid down a slope near the ledge.
“When I was on the on the phone with them they asked how far I thought he fell; I said maybe 20 feet, maybe as much as 50 feet if he kept falling,” Wheeler said.
Haskins said Pony Mountain is popular with rock climbers. “It’s well-known and they do a lot of rock climbing, but he had no safety stuff on or anything, just playing around, it sounds like, and fell over,” Haskins said.
A few people have been flown away over the years and someone died there many years ago, Haskins said.
The boy was taken by Highland Ambulance from the trailhead to a field at Ludwig and Williamsburg roads, where the LifeFlight helicopter touched down shortly before 4:30 p.m. The helicopter left with the boy aboard a short time later.
Recorder staff contributed to this report.
Photos from MassLive.com
LONGMEADOW – A worker has died after becoming trapped in a water-filled trench while working on a sewer project, and police are now looking into why the accident happened.
Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane told 22News that at around 7:45 A.M., a call went out about an accident inside the trench that was dug out on Hazardville Road, at the corner of Tedford Drive. Crane said that a water main had broken there, and the trench filled with water.
Police Chief John Stankiewicz told 22News that following an hours-long recovery operation, the worker’s body was pulled from the trench at around noontime Friday.
The trench had been dug out as part of a town sewer replacement project. Crane said that the worker was a member of a crew from Ludlow-based construction firm A. Martins & Sons, which has been working on the project.
Representatives from the office of the state medical examiner are at the accident site, and state troopers, Longmeadow police, and OSHA are looking into the cause.
Paul Lamb, a trainer for Sensit Technologies of Valparaiso, Indiana, left, demonstrates a gas detection instrument for members of Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team at the Columbia Gas of Massachusetts maintenance depot in Easthampmton, August 15, 2014. Team members visible from left: team director William Selkirk, assistant chief, district two, South Hadley Fire Department, rescue technician Sandi Kraus, a firefighter with the Easthampton Fire Department, Chicopee Fire Department Captain David Beauregard, team assistant training and safety officer and Westfield Fire Department Captain Rebecca Boutin, team training and safety coordinator. (Michael S. Gordon / The Republican)
Published on MassLive.com
By George Graham | firstname.lastname@example.org
on August 15, 2014
Members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue team are now better prepared to conduct confined space rescues thanks to to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
The company donated three natural gas combustible indicators – and provided the training to safely use them. Confined spaces pose can pose safety challengers to rescuers because they can contain hazardous materials in gas or liquid form. The donation of the state-of-the-art detectors, which monitor air for the displacement of oxygen and the presence of toxic or explosive gases, allows members of the team to perform an initial assessment of the air before they enter the confined space.
Andrea Luppi, manager of communications and community relations for Columbia Gas, said the Sensit Gold G2 detectors are valued at $1,500 apiece.“This is really great,” said William Selkirk, director of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team and assistant chief of the South Hadley District 2 Fire Department. “They are doing a great thing for us. It’s really a big deal.”
The team, which has about 80 members from fire departments across Western Massachusetts, formed about a year ago and has been operational since January. It is comprised of three separate units that serve Hampden, Berkshire and Hampshire/Franklin counties So far, team members have earned technical certification for high angle, steep slope and confined space rescue, said Westfield Fire Capt. Rebecca Boutin, who also serves as safety and training coordinator for the team.
The team has deployed five times and its work has included several rescues on Mount Skinner and aiding in the emergency response for a Vermont woman who lost her life while tubing in the Deerfield River in Conway. Selkirk said. Selkirk, Boutin and several firefighters from Holyoke and Chicopee received the indicators and a two-hour training in their use at the Columbia Gas facility on Industrial Parkway.