A man from Cumming who fell about 25 feet Friday while hiking at Cochran Falls in northwestern Dawson County is expected to make a full recovery.
Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said the 22-year-old, whose name has not been released, was in stable condition Monday afternoon and could be released from the hospital within a few days.
“This is just another example of the value of training,” he said.
The second highest waterfall in Georgia, Cochran Falls, a 600 feet cascade, is a popular but rugged hiking trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest about four miles from Amicalola Falls State Park. The man had been hiking with four friends when he fell.
“We were just out there a month ago and trained in the area,” Swafford said. “It was that training, along with teamwork from Amicalola Falls State Park staff, Big Canoe Public Safety, Lumpkin County Fire and EMS, Dawson County 911 Communications, DNR Aviation and Airlife Georgia — that we all worked in harmony for a great operation.”
The dramatic rescue began about 2:30 p.m. on Friday with emergency personnel driving nearly two miles down a narrow mountain road and then hiking another three miles with their gear into the national forest.
They then rappelled down the side of the embankment to reach the man, who suffered several broken bones to his lower extremities in the fall but was conscious and alert when they arrived, according to Dawson County Emergency Services Battalion Chief Milton Keller.
Crews stabilized the patient and treated his injuries on the thin mountain ledge before he was secured on a basket stretcher, lifted into the air and flown by DNR Aviation at about 40 mph over treetops to emergency workers waiting in a nearby field.
The rescue was captured on video and sparked national media attention for the emergency crew’s actions.
Swafford said while the rescue was dramatic, it was “no different than what we do every day.”
According to Swafford, Friday’s incident is the fourth fall from atop the falls since 1990.
The man is recovering at Grady Memorial Hospital.