North Adams: Stranded man rescued from 60-foot gorge


NORTH ADAMS >> Firefighters rescued a stranded man from a 60-foot gorge at Natural Bridge State Park Thursday evening.

Emergency responders were called to the scene shortly after 8 p.m. and police were able to locate Taylor Sheldon, of North Adams, in the water below.

From a footbridge above the opening, firefighter Matthew Davis was hoisted to a position partway down the rocks. From there, he lowered a ladder, rope, harness, and life jacket to Sheldon, who had been in the water for some time but was uninjured, according to North Adams Fire Director Stephen Meranti.

Davis — a member of the Western Massachusetts Regional Technical Rescue Team — had reached a position that also allowed emergency responders to more clearly communicate with the man over the sound of rushing water, which had presented a challenge.

Sheldon was tied to the rope for security as he walked up the ladder and out of the gorge, according to Meranti, who added the operation would have been much more extensive had the man been injured. He was treated by North Adams Ambulance personnel on the scene but declined transportation to the hospital.

"It went well, I think they did a good job. I'm a volunteer firefighter myself but I never had to do something like that, but I'd say they probably did the best that they could've," Sheldon told The Eagle on Friday.

Sheldon and friends had been working their way upstream until they reached a waterfall. He decided to climb up it, but his friends decided it was too dangerous and walked around it with a plan to meet him on the other side, according to Sheldon.

"On the other side was a ledge that I couldn't reach, as another waterfall was coming off of it and below the ledge was a pool of water that was too deep for me to touch the bottom. I attempted to move a tree over to use it to climb out but it got stuck, and then my friends ended up calling the police," Sheldon said.

Sheldon estimated he was stuck for about two hours.

Due to dangerous conditions, swimming is prohibited at Natural Bridge State Park, according to its website. The park, which is overseen by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, closes at 5 p.m.

All emergency responders were clear from the scene by 10:30 p.m.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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