New Jersey woman who fell 75 feet off Squaw Peak in fair condition

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A New Jersey woman who survived a 75-foot fall off a Monument Mountain cliff Saturday is recovering from multiple fractures at Albany Medical Center in New York, where she was flown after a four-hour rescue.

Paula Reiss, 59, of New Brunswick, N.J., is in fair condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Cassie Nelson.

Reiss apparently lost her footing near one of Squaw Peak's rocky ledges when she fell sometime before 1 p.m., according to the Great Barrington Fire Department.

Reiss had been hiking with her husband, who called 911 to report the accident and had hiked down the cliff to look for his wife while another hiker remained in place to help firefighters.

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Town Fire Chief Charles Burger told The Eagle that several hikers also helped to locate Reiss, and firefighters then were able to rig up rope systems and rappel down from where she had fallen.

"She was hung up about 80 feet down with multiple fractures, but she was alert, conscious and talking to us," he said.

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He also said that he believes she was wearing appropriate footwear for a hike.

Burger said that, every year, there is at least one complicated rescue off Monument Mountain.

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"This one was more difficult than most," he said, noting that 50 rescuers responded and that the rescue drew fire and police departments from multiple towns as well as assistance with others' calls while the rescue was taking place.

He reminded hikers to wear the right shoes, bring water and a cellphone, and to not hike alone.

"And stay away from the edges," Burger said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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