A North­ern Bay res­cue

Bruised and sore fol­low­ing har­row­ing fall over cliff in North­ern Bay

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers and a lo­cal fish­er­man suc­cess­fully res­cued a young woman from Mount Pearl af­ter she sur­vived a fall over a sea­side cliff in North­ern Bay late one night dur­ing the Labour Day week­end. It was an amaz­ing tale of de­ter­mi­na­tion and com­pas­sion on the part of res­cuers, and a brush with death that Me­gan Ken­dell won’t soon for­get.

A midnight visit to a beach at North­ern Bay by a half-dozen young adults turned into a neartragedy for a 20-year-old woman from Mount Pearl over the Labour Day long week­end, and her par­ents can’t say enough about what they de­scribe as an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse from emer­gency per­son­nel and pri­vate cit­i­zens.

What’s more, the in­ci­dent again raised ques­tions about in­ad­e­quate cell­phone ser­vices on the north shore of Con­cep­tion Bay.

Me­gan Ken­dell and a hand­ful of other friends de­cided to walk to the beach at Isaac’s Cove — re­ferred to lo­cally as “Icy” Cove — at about 11:30 p.m. on Satur­day, Aug. 31. The beach is lo­cated at the base of a steep cliff, which is char­ac­ter­is­tic of the en­tire shore­line along most of the north shore.

As they ap­proached, Me­gan slipped in the wet grass and tum­bled down the face of what ap­pears to be a 15-me­tre, or 50-foot cliff. Ear­lier re­ports put the drop at 80 feet.

Her fall set in mo­tion a se­ries of events that — against great odds — ended with her suc­cess­ful res­cue.

Af­ter see­ing their friend dis­ap­pear over the cliff, and their phones un­able to pick up any sig­nal, Me­gan’s friends ran to nearby homes, desparate to get the word out to emer­gency re­spon­ders.

In short or­der, vol­un­teers with the North Shore Re­gional Fire Depart­ment, RCMP and med­i­cal re­spon­ders were on the scene.

Sur­vived fall

It was quickly as­cer­tained that Me­gan had sur­vived the fall, and was trapped on the rocky beach be­low, suf­fer­ing from un­known in­juries.

It was de­cided a res­cue from the sea was the best op­tion, and a call went out to Gull Is­land fish­er­man Dale Pike. Hav­ing just turned in for the night with plans to head for the fish­ing grounds bright and early Sun­day morn­ing, Pike lept from his bed, hopped aboard his pickup and raced to nearby Ochre Pit Cove, where his 25-foot boat was docked.

Join­ing him were Fire Chief Roger Gilling­ham and fire­fighter Dar­ren Cull. They pulled a small row­boat onto the deck, and opened the throt­tle for Isaac’s Cove.

They ar­rived about 15 min­utes later to a shore­line brim­ming with lights and ac­tiv­ity, and quickly de­ployed the smaller boat. Gilling­ham and Cull rowed the short dis­tance to shore, as­sessed Me­gan’s con­di­tion, and de­cided it was safe to load her into the small boat. Cull rowed her back to the larger boat, and gen­tly placed Me­gan into Pike’s ves­sel.

“She was pretty banged up,” said Pike. “We told her how lucky she was.”

Panic-stricken

Cull then went back to shore and picked up the fire chief, and they made the re­turn trip to Ochre Pit Cove, where an am­bu­lance and sev­eral of Me­gan’s panic-stricken friends were wait­ing.

She was trans­ported to Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, where she un­der­went a se­ries of tests and med­i­cal treat­ments, and was re­leased into the care of her par­ents, Mike and Su­san Ken­dell, later Sun­day morn­ing.

Mirac­u­lously, her in­juries were not se­ri­ous, though by Tues­day morn­ing she could only “shuf­fle around the house,” said Mike Ken­dell, her fa­ther, adding that it ap­pears Me­gan’s hips took the brunt of the trauma as she fell down the cliff.

It’s be­lieved that Me­gan was on the beach for about 90 min­utes be­fore res­cue ar­rived, and sev­eral fac­tors worked in her favour, say res­cuers.

I have worked with the Coast Guard for al­most 23 years, and those peo­ple are the best peo­ple. They know

the area.

— Mike Ken­dell

First of all, it ap­pears she tum­bled down the cliff, as op­posed to a free-fall that may have had deadly con­se­quences. Se­condly, the tide was low and the ocean was calm, mean­ing she did not plunge into the wa­ter, thereby de­lay­ing the onset of hy­pother­mia or the risk of drown­ing. And thirdly, there are no haz­ardous shoals in that par­tic­u­lar area, mak­ing it more man­age­able for a small boat to get in close.

Pike vis­ited the area again on the morn­ing of Sept. 3, but this time in his pickup. He is still amazed by how Me­gan’s or­deal un­folded.

“For her to fall that dis­tance and only have mi­nor in­juries, I couldn’t be­lieve it,” said Pike, star­ing down at the jagged rocks that jut out along the cliff face.

Af­ter the res­cue, Pike went home and opened a cold beer. He couldn’t sleep and a few hours later got back in his boat to go fish­ing.

“It wasn’t a very pros­per­ous day on the wa­ter,” he said. “I couldn’t stop think­ing about that girl and how she was do­ing.”

A grate­ful fa­ther

Mike Ken­dell said there were about 14 young adults so­cial­iz­ing at a nearby cot­tage, and Me­gan had vis­ited North­ern Bay in the past.

He has re­sisted go­ing into de­tail with his daugh­ter about the in­ci­dent, not want­ing to up­set her. But there’s one thing he knows for sure; it’s amaz­ing his daugh­ter is still alive.

“If you’re walk­ing around cliffs at night, you’re flirt­ing with disas­ter,” said Mike. “I think she learned her les­son, for sure.”

Me­gan’s fa­ther ex­pressed deep grat­i­tude to all those in­volved in his daugh­ter’s res­cue, and was es­pe­cially glow­ing about the role played by Dale Pike.

Mike works at the soon-to-beshut­tered Marine Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Traf­fic Ser­vices Cen­tre in St. John’s, and has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence in­ter­act­ing with fish­er­men.

“I have worked with the Coast Guard for al­most 23 years, and those peo­ple are the best peo­ple,” he said. “They know the area.”

That was cer­tainly the case for Pike, who has har­vested caplin traps and lob­ster pots in the area. He knew ex­actly the cor­rect ap­proach to make in his boat, even in the dark­ness.

“If I didn’t do it, some­body else would have,” Pike replied when asked why he agreed, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, to get in­vovled.

Mean­while, Me­gan spoke with CBC News later in the week, re­call­ing her brush with death. She cred­ited her friends with help­ing keep her spir­its up while she waited for res­cue.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Fish­er­man Dale Pike is seen at Isaac’s Cove, North­ern Bay on the morn­ing of Tues­day, Sept. 3. Pike was one of those in­vovled in the late-night res­cue of a young woman from Mount Pearl over the Labour Day week­end.

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