A Duluth man was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta Monday after falling down a waterfall in the remote Glade Shoals in North Hall.
The 19-year-old suffered head injuries from the fall and was unconscious at the time he was flown from Ga. 52 by a helicopter, Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said.
The man was with other people on the private property east of Clarks Bridge Road. Hall County Fire Services responded after someone in the group called in the incident at about 2:45 p.m., Kimbrell said.
The ensuing rescue took about an hour.
“The start of the waterfalls is about 50 yards off the road and then it meanders down ... about 50 to 60 feet,” the chief said. “When you fall, you fall to the bottom and there’s no way to access (the area) from the bottom. So, you have to walk down the side.”
Once they got an all-terrain vehicle in place, rescuers had to walk about 50 to 75 yards to the top of the shoals, across a creek and then go down the side of the falls to reach the victim.
“We had to set up a pulley system, once we tied him in the rescue basket, and pull him straight up and then put him on the all-terrain vehicle,” Kimbrell said.
Rescuers then drove the vehicle to Ga. 52, where he was placed aboard the helicopter.
The effort was especially difficult.
“It’s terrible terrain. No one’s ever in there, so (emergency crews) were having to cut little trees to bring him up,” Kimbrell said.
The Glades Shoals are on the same large, undeveloped track as the planned 850-acre Glades Reservoir, which is slated to provide future water supply for Hall County, the city of Gainesville and Forsyth County.
John Vardeman, a spokesman for the Glades Farm property owners, said trespassing is a big problem, especially in the summer months.
He said the property owners are pressing charges against the teens who were on the property.
“Though it is a frustrating situation for the property owners, we nonetheless extend deepest sympathies to the family of the young man involved in the accident,” Vardeman said. “Sadly this is just evidence of how dangerous the shoals are.”
“It’s not to come down mean on someone’s summer fun,” Vardeman said. “But pressing charges is to show how serious we are so people understand how dangerous the shoals are in that area.”
Vardeman said there is a 300-foot long chain-link fence along Ga. 52 that blocks access to the shoals and large “Danger No Trespassing” signs warn intruders.
Despite security measures, Vardeman said people still venture onto the shoals.
“With the water up right now, it’s been an increasing danger and they’ve got really slippery moss on the rocks, so it is very, very dangerous,” Vardeman said.
The area has a long history of people stumbling on its perilous slopes and boulders, documented to at least 1957 when a boy survived an 80-foot plunge off a waterfall.
“We’ve had several falls there in the past and (someone) has gone in there and put up fencing with (warning) signs,” Kimbrell said.
“But somehow people have gotten around that.”