Crews perform high angle rescue

August 4, 2008 8:44:18 PM PDT
Rescue teams pulled a woman up more than 200 feet out of a quarry. The victim is identified as a woman in her 40s from the Blue Bell area.

She is reported to be in stable condition with multiple injuries at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylania.

The woman's silver SUV landed in what seemed an abyss. It was 240 feet below in a dormant quarry at the highway materials asphalt plant.

"She picked a pretty steep area, I don't know how that worked out, but it was one of the steepest areas of the mountain where she came to rest," Corporal Sam Ditzler of the Whitemarsh Township Police said.

Cpl. Ditzler was one the first responders on the scene after a 911 call reporting the woman had driven through a locked gate and then made her way towards the cliff:

"As we got here, we learned that some employees had actually seen her drive over and it appeared as though she had done it on purpose," Cpl. Ditzler said.

Around 40 to 50 fire rescue personnel responded to the scene. After it was determined the woman was alive, but suffered multiple injuries, they risked their own lives to get her out of there.

"The terrain is rough, it's loose, there's a lot of gravel and rocks literally rolling down," Detective Rich Zadroga of the Whitemarsh Township Police said.

With the terrain at a very steep angle, and the vehicle precariously in danger of falling further down the cliff, rescuers tied several cables and ropes to it that had been secured to emergency vehicles above.

"They had to really secure the vehicle to make sure no rescuers and the driver were not injured any further," Det. Zadroga said.

"The medics did a really nice job, they got inside, got her on a board, got her neck all secure and everything, we were able to pull her out," Cpl. Ditzler said.

Then they used a hoist and a series of lines to carefully lift the driver up some 240 feet above to safety and to a waiting ambulance. Her heavily damaged SUV was later lifted out of the canyon as well.

None of the rescuers was injured.

"I think the medics and the fire department did a really nice job; they really came through for us, that's what they're great at," Cpl. Ditzler said.