Canandaigua, N.Y. - It’s not a sight you see every day - a helicopter on the 15th
Moments earlier rescuers had pulled the body of an unconscious man from a gully – a 100 foot drop from the embankment above.
“He was unconscious by the time we got here. He had multiple injuries,” says Jeff Harloff, Ontario County’s Emergency Management Director.
The victim, a grounds keeper, fell into the gorge while mowing the lawn at Bristol Harbour’s golf course. The drop where he plunged was so steep that rescue crews prepared to enter the gorge from another angle.
They used stabilizing ropes and carried a body-sized basket. “We basically rigged up a set of ropes to go down with a two rope system,” explained Chief Patrick Elwell of the Naples Fire Department. “We packaged the patient on a back board and pulled him back out on a rope.”
The victim has been identified as 68-year-old Doug Preston. He was last seen mowing near the 15th green around 7 a.m.
When he didn’t show up for his next assignment co-workers went looking for him.
“At this time we have no idea what happened,” says Lt. Bill Gallagher of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department. “We don’t know if there was a medical problem or something else.”
“The lawn mower was laying on its side in the gully and the victim was found a short distance away,” says Chief Elwell. Preston suffered head and internal injuries and is in critical condition in intensive care.
Ontario County’s ropes rescue team had trained for just such a rescue in the very same spot, just two weeks ago. “We typically do 7 to 10 rescues a year with all the gorges here in the Finger Lakes,” says Chief Elwell.
The victim may have been unconscious in the gorge for four hours. Yet it took this trained rescue team just 10 minutes to get him out to a waiting stretcher. The victim was stabilized by EMT’s and then rolled to Mercy Flight Helicopter.
“The combined group of people here today have done an awesome job,” says Harloff.