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.”


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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