The 47-year-old man is recovering from his injuries after falling at least 30 feet off a railroad trestle bridge into a Mahwah River embankment. The Montebello man was found farther down the river from where he fell and told first reponders he had been stranded for three days, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports.
“If no one had heard him, who knows what could’ve happened?” Ryan Ortiz, Suffern battalion fire chief, said. “He’s probably lucky he didn’t break anything in his neck or his head.”
It was a passerby who heard his calls for help in the area of Tilton Road and went to police just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Officers say they climbed down the steep embankment to rescue the man. He was sitting up in the water, but due to injuries to his back and leg, the man couldn’t move.
With the help of the fire department and EMS, the first responders were able to get him onto a backboard.
“We harnessed him into that and then from there we came up with a plan to use some ropes and other equipment to help slide him up the embankment, up to level ground where he could get into an ambulance,” Ortiz said.
First responders say the man was visibly dehydrated and shaken, possibly suffering from hypothermia. The victim is currently at the Westchester Medical Center for treatment. His condition is unknown.
Local leaders are taking this time to remind residents of the dangers of walking on an open bridge over water.
“That bridge is so unsafe. It’s highly recommended to stay off the railroad tracks. It’s a railroad track and then a trestle. There’s no railing,” Suffern Mayor Edward Markunas said.
“Very steep drop. It was probably one of the worst spots he could’ve been in for us to get to,” chief of police Clarke Osborn said.
Officials say rescues like this also put first responders’ lives at risk.
Police are still investigating how the man fell.