Rescue Proves Cautionary Tale Against Unguarded Swimming Holes


TUXEDO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Bergen County teenager is giving thanks for brave first responders after an accident at a popular but unguarded swimming hole.

The 18-year-old from Fair Lawn, N.J., hit several rocks as she fell 38 feet head first into the water – breaking ribs, her collarbone, and several teeth – reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

A Bergen County teenager is giving thanks for brave first responders after an accident at a popular but unguarded swimming hole. (Credit: CBS2)

“Where it is deep is a very small area,” said Tuxedo Police Lt. John Norton. “You’re jumping from cliffs into that small area. You miss, you’re getting hurt, unfortunately, and you are far, far from the resources to rescue you.”

Norton says Saturday’s rescue, in a section of the Ramapo River that some call “the bubbles,” involved teens from New Jersey who crossed just over the state line.

MORE: Beat The Heat: Water Safety Tips For Pool, Beach Swimming

A Bergen County teenager is giving thanks for brave first responders after an accident at a popular but unguarded swimming hole. (Credit: Town of Tuxedo Police)

Still pictures show rescuers, including Norton, entering the water to secure and remove the badly injured teen.

“Our biggest concern was spinal injuries,” said Norton. “Under those circumstances, if you’re moved improperly, paralysis can occur. Our biggest concern was to immobilize her right where she was.”

The rescue effort, so difficult and dangerous, took five state and local first responder agencies to pull it off.

Accessing the remote scene was tough, while working in the 90 degree heat was grueling.

Unguarded swimming holes and quarries are a big concern for first responders. Experts say slopes and ledges can be very slippery, increasing the likelihood of accidental falls.

There is often concealed debris under the water surface, and quarries are notorious for pockets of extremely cold water that cripple swimmers with cramps.

“Swim where there’s lifeguards, swim at the public access points,” said Tuxedo Fire Chief Kenneth McGrady. “Those lifeguards are there for you, and your safety is paramount.”

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