Texting woman falls off cliff

KODIAK, ALASKA — Fire officials faced a double challenge during a recent rescue: A woman fell 60 feet down a cliff to rocks as the tide crept in along a Kodiak beach.

The home of the woman, Maria Pestrikoff, sits on the cliff. While texting on Sept. 17, she walked close to the edge to discard a cigarette butt. She slipped on wet grass and fell, her friend Anthony Burke told the Kodiak Daily Mirror in a story Wednesday.

“She was in the rocks between the boulders and she was calling for help,” Burke said. “She was screaming in agony.”

Bayside Fire Department received the first call for help. Chief Bob Himes said the Kodiak Fire Department was quickly summoned for its expertise in rope rescues.

“It’s a very hard rescue,” Himes said. “It’s very technical, and it doesn’t happen that often. We rely on the city and the Coast Guard fire departments who have the manpower to do the training.”

Two Bayside volunteer first responders used an aluminum ladder to descend and reach Pestrikoff. Kodiak firefighters followed, Chief Rome Kamai said in an email.

He and fire Lt. Matt Stone rappelled down to Pestrikoff and began to prepare her for the lift back to the top of the cliff, Kamai said.

Rescuers had to act quickly. The cold tide was just 10 feet from Pestrikoff.

Pestrikoff suffered multiple injuries. She was stabilized, placed in a stretcher and lifted up the cliff. An ambulance took her to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, and she was flown to an Anchorage hospital.

“The communication between departments was incredibly good,” Burke said. “The tide was right up to her toes by the time they were able to get her out.”

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