Prolonged Rescue Effort Necessary to Remove Suicidal Party from Backcountry Cliff

  • 11 November 2019
Prolonged Rescue Effort Necessary to Remove Suicidal Party from Backcountry Cliff

At 12:45 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, crews from Vail Fire, Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS), Eagle County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) and Vail Mountain Rescue (VMR) were dispatched to a report of a suicidal party who was trapped on a cliff approximately 1.5 miles up Red Sandstone Road, also known as Piney Road. 

Upon arrival crews from ECSO, Vail Fire and ECPS found a woman trapped on a ledge above an 80-foot cliff. The cliff was across the canyon from Red Sandstone Road. Once the patient was located, crews had to descend 400 feet to the bottom of the canyon, cross Red Sandstone Creek and then ascend several hundred feet to make voice contact with the victim. Deputies were able to talk to the victim from a distance and convinced her to move away from the ledge.  

A member of VMR climbed above the patient and then rappelled down the cliff face to the victim. Once the victim was off the ledge, crews from Vail Fire and VMR used a rope system to lower the patient to the bottom of the canyon. Crews then assisted the patient with climbing out of the canyon. Due to the difficult access and technical equipment required, it took approximately four hours to bring the patient to safety.

“I’m thankful that this incident had a safe resolution as our crews were facing a number of hazards which included cold temperatures, steep icy slopes and falling rock,” said Fire Chief Mark Novak.  

Persons experiencing depression or suicidal thought are encouraged to call Speak Up, Reach Out at 1-800-273-8255 or the Hope Center, 970-306-4673.

Other assisting agencies included Vail Public Safety Communication Center and Vail Police Department.


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