Ithaca firefighters rescued a man in the Fall Creek gorge overnight after Tompkins County Dispatch received a call from the Cornell University Police Department. Officials say the call came in at about 12:30am Saturday, reporting that a man was in the gorge below the Stewart Avenue bridge and above Ithaca Falls.
Ithaca Fire Department and Bangs Ambulance responded to the scene, where firefighters donned water rescue gear and entered the gorge near Willard Way using a 24-foot ladder. According to the Ithaca Fire Department, rescuers “then walked up through the old water sluice for the Ithaca Gun factory, and crossed the moving water above the falls to the injured man.”
IFD officials say lights from a ladder truck were set up near the Stewart Avenue bridge to illuminate the rescue scene, since “the gorge floor was pitch black.”
The injured “college aged man” was placed in a Stokes rescue basket, carried across the water by rescuers, and then lifted by a rope system rigged by the responders to waiting Bangs Ambulance personnel.
The man was taken to a landing zone at Cornell’s Jessup Field set up by Cayuga Heights Fire Department, and airlifted by LifeNet to SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. His condition is unknown at this time, and it’s unclear how he got into the gorge, according to officials.
According to IFD Lieutenant Thomas T. Basher Jr., off-duty firefighters, as well as firefighters from neighboring Cayuga Heights, Newfield, and Trumansburg fire departments, were called in to cover other emergency calls during the roughly two-hour rescue operation.