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.