Site of teen accident a semi-popular swimming hole
Cormorant helicopter used in rescue at North River falls
“It’s just a cool spot in the woods.”
So says Alexis Zegray, 16, as she and her friend Charlotte Wheeldon, 15, stand on a steep, moss-covered, rocky embankment overlooking the West Branch North River.
About 21 metres below this very secluded spot in a remote wooded area off the Old Truro Road, is what is known as the North River falls. Slightly below where the teens are standing, is the spot from where another 16year-old Colchester County girl fell Thursday evening, striking a rock on the way down and injuring the lower portion of her body before ending up in the water.
“It’s scary,” Alexis said, thinking about the previous night’s accident.
An RCMP spokesman said the teen, who was swimming at the site with several other people, lost her footing after climbing up on the embankment just before 7:30 p.m. After landing in the water, the teen was “immediately” brought to shore by others on scene.
Zegray said she has occasionally visited the site since last summer “just to jump off the rocks. And it’s like a secret place to swim,” she said, while quickly adding that she never jumps off the “high rocks, just some of the low ones.”
But Zegray said she could only imagine the difficulty that would be involved in trying to rescue someone from the base of the falls. “It would be like impossible (to get them out),” she said.
The tree-lined path into the site is narrow, with boulders, tree stumps and roots protruding from the ground. It twists and turns, rises and falls until you come to the edge of the embankment, at which point is becomes incredibly steep.
Well-worn paths run helter, skelter here and there through the trees and wind down along sheer cliff edges until you reach the bottom, where a deep pool of fresh, cool water gathers after rushing down from the falls, before carrying on downstream.
“This was tough. It was definitely tough,” said Guy Gallant, assistant deputy chief of the North River and District Fire Brigade, of the rescue effort.
“Just setting up was very difficult for the members because we still have to wear our protective equipment. And even though it’s the summer stuff, that’s lighter, there was a lot of perspiring that was going on,” he said. “The footing wasn’t great.”
Just getting in or out of the site of the rescue took each member 15 to 20 minutes to go one way, he said, “so conditions for getting there were substantially difficult for us, as well.”
His members received the call out shortly after 7:30 p.m., Gallant said, but once on site it didn’t take long to realize they were going to need other, specialized help.
“Once we understood that it was a high-angle rescue, we called in the special hazards team from Bible Hill and they responded with their highangle team,” he said.
Two crews of EHS paramedics were also on hand along with members of the Colchester Ground Search and Rescue.
Before the night was over, nearly 50 individuals would become involved in the rescue effort – 40 of whom were volunteers.
As well, members of the Valley Kemptown and District Fire Brigade went on stand by for four hours to fill in for the displaced North River brigade.
“Everyone who had their own specialties worked well with the other teams,” Gallant said. “Communications went well.”
Rescue teams, including members of the Special Hazards Rescue Team in Bible Hill, are seen setting up for a high-angle rescue from the base of the North River Falls on the West Branch North River on Thursday evening. A 16-year- old Colchester County girl was eventually airlifted from the base of the falls by a Cormorant helicopter belonging to the 413 Rescue and Transport Squadron out of Greenwood.