A student fell 30 feet into Fall Creek Gorge while apparently trying to rock climb near the Thurston Avenue bridge on Saturday afternoon. The student suffered “severe abrasions” and was airlifted to a hospital in Pennsylvania, according to John Carberry, a Cornell public information officer.
After falling 30 feet and rolling another 30 feet, the student landed on a ledge above the bottom of the gorge, Carberry said. The student then climbed out of the gorge with assistance from a companion and walked back to his dorm in Risley Hall, where police found him, according to Kathy Zoner, chief of the Cornell University Police Department.
The student was examined by paramedics from Bangs Ambulance, who found the student had “severe abrasions” on his ribs and back and thought he may have more serious injuries, Carberry said. He was taken by helicopter to Guthrie Hospital in Pennsylvania around 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.
CUPD declined to identify the student. The police department is continuing to investigate the incident.
Police officers were first called to the Thurston Avenue bridge at 3:15 p.m. after witnesses apparently saw the student climbing the face of the cliff. Officers did not witness the student’s fall, but they did see the student and his companions climbing back out of the gorge, Zoner said. Officers found the student in his dorm room soon afterward.
The student received an appearance ticket for disorderly conduct and a warning for trespassing, Zoner said. One of the student’s companions received a ticket as well.
Zoner emphasized that climbing the gorge faces “can be very treacherous and hazardous” and CUPD “will not tolerate rock climbing.”
The shale and limestone that make up the cliffs crumble easily, so hand and foot-holds can fall away without notice, she said.