Members of the DeKalb County Fire and Rescue Department’s technical rescue team use an intricate rope system Tuesday to rescue a 12-year-old trapped on the side of Stone Mountain. Two other boys, ages 17 and 18, also were rescued after they slipped and tumbled down the side of the mountain.
Gale Swanson knew all too well what two teens were experiencing Tuesday when she saw they’d fallen off the sheer rock face on Stone Mountain.
It happened to her 20 years ago.
“I know their pain,” she said in an email to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I fell off Stone Mountain on Jan. 1, 1993, and remember so well the horror of sliding and not being able to do anything about it.”
Like Swanson, the teens – 18 and 17 – slid, out of control, down a couple hundred feet of the sheer granite face of the mountain’s northeast side and were seriously injured.
A rescue team was dispatched to pluck the two youths from a ravine and help their uninjured, 12-year-old companion to safety.
The 18-year-old was flown by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center in serious condition with head injuries, DeKalb County Fire and Rescue officials said. The 17-year-old was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center with a possible fractured ankle, authorities said.
The teen who was taken to Atlanta Medical Center has been identified by his parents as Jason Landress, Channel 2 Action News reported. His parents said he was conscious and alert when the saw him and he is expected to spend the night in the intensive care unit.
Police said at least one of the teens may have caused their misfortune.
“One of the kids saw this pipe (or culvert) and decided to go down it for some reason,” said John Bankhead, spokesman for Stone Mountain Park.
The teen “started to slide and couldn’t stop. The second, older kid went after him, and that’s when the problems started with those two,” Bankhead said.
The teens had been climbing the mountain with a neighbor and his son, the 12-year-old, early Tuesday afternoon when the foursome veered into a restricted area on the mountain’s northeast side.
It had been the same for Swanson. She said she and her hiking companions didn’t see signs warning people away from the side of the mountain where decades old granite excavation had turned gentle slopes into sheer rock face.
On Tuesday, when he realized the two older boys were injured, the dad went for help. He instructed his preteen son to wait where he was.
“He was trapped in area that was too tall for him to climb up, and it was slippery on both sides,” DeKalb County Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Norman Augustin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Help was dispatched shortly after 12:30 p.m.
DeKalb fire officials used a high-angle rope system to reach the injured youth in the ravine and pull them to safety in a rescue basket.
“We were fortunate that the patients were not critical and not profusely bleeding so we were able to take our time to set the rope system up,” Augustin said.
Then they went for the 12-year-old.
“He froze,” Bankhead said. “He was in shock. EMT’s got there and told him to stay there because he needed to rescue the two who were injured.”
Augustin said because areas of the rock were wet, DeKalb rescuers were slipping and sliding as they went to help the boy.
By 2:40 p.m., the rescue was complete. It took place near the Bird Sanctuary trail, on the back side of the mountain, away from the sculpture of Confederate Civil War icons.
No charges are being filed, Bankhead said, and none of the victims has been identified.
Via phone Tuesday, Swanson related the terror she imagined the teens felt.
“My feet slid out from under me,” she said. “I rolled over to try to grab onto something. But it’s hard to grab onto granite.”
Swanson landed on her right side, fracturing her pelvis in five places and breaking bones in her shoulder and ankle.
Todd Gurley just wouldn’t listen. Georgia’s star tailback, out of action since Oct. 9, had two more games added to what had been a two-game suspension for accepting what the NCAA claims to have been more than $3,000 from memorabilia dealers for autographing merchandise over the past two years.
See Flashback Fotos on myajc.com for only 99 cents. Visit the MyAJC archives for a historic look at Atlanta from Midtown in the 70s to Auburn Avenue and even life here before traffic jams on the interstates.