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Crews rescue woman from Glen Onoko Falls trail

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    Emergency personnel rescue a woman Sunday afternoon from the now closed Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park. COPYRIGHT LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    ABOVE: Several volunteer fire departments were on the scene of a rescue at Glen Onoko Falls. BELOW: Emergency personnel rescue a woman Sunday afternoon from the now-closed Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park. COPYRIGHT LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published June 03. 2019 12:51PM

Emergency crews were on scene in Jim Thorpe for three hours as part of a rescue that began Sunday afternoon at the now-closed Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Borough fire Chief Vince Yaich said the initial call came in at 12:30 p.m. for a woman at the top of the lowest falls, which was the first falls, but that she was up a little bit of where the original call stated.

Yaich said the woman had a dislocated knee. She was brought down in a Stokes basket, treated, and transported to Lehighton Hospital.

He said the woman, whose identity and age are unknown, is from out of the area, and was with traveling with three other companions.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission closed the trail May 1, citing trail conditions and numerous rescues over the years, despite a petition signed by 20,000 hikers asking to keep it open.

“I know the game commission official was there, he took the three companions that were with her and talked to them,” Yaich said. “He told me there was going to be fines assessed.”

Yaich said the Pennsylvania Game Commission chose to close the trail.

“There’s really not much to say,” he said. “The game commission chose to close it.”

Yaich stressed that emergency services people asked to help dress up the trail to make it easier for responders when called to the scene, not to close the trail.

“The emergency services people did not ask for this trail to be closed; we asked for somebody to fix the trail,” he said. “Dress the trail up, make it easier on responders that have to go up there and on the people who are up there hiking.”

Yaich added, “It’s a fact of life; you’re not going to keep people out of there. Yesterday proved that.”

The trail is deteriorating, making access more difficult.

“Dressing it up would go a long way to maybe solving the problem, but that’s up to the landowners, the politicians, and whoever,” he said. “Fixing the trail would go a long way to solving this trouble; you’re not going to keep them out of there, and to do nothing is just compounding the problem.”

Yaich said emergency personnel were on scene until around 3 p.m.

Also assisting at the scene were the Lehighton Fire Department, Nesquehoning Fire Department, Lehigh and Lausanne, and a medical truck from Lehighton Ambulance.

On May 21, Gov. Tom Wolf visited the base of the Glen Onoko Falls trail with State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne/Carbon, to promote his $4.5 billion Restore Pennsylvania initiative. The plan calls for a tax on Marcellus Shale drillers to tackle blight, deteriorating roads, and broadband Internet in rural areas.

Wolf said the trail should be open, and his Restore Pennsylvania initiative is the best way to make that happen.

Wolf guaranteed that he would reopen the popular hiking spot if lawmakers pass his proposed tax on the natural gas industry.

He said it would involve transferring it to DCNR, an initial investment of $4 million and $500,000 each year to staff the falls. The cost to fix the trail is estimated at $1.7 million, but Wolf said access to the trail needs to be improved for first responders.

Neither the game commission nor DCNR have plans to reopen the trail.

Glad to see closing the trail is preventing anyone from having to be rescued. We should ban guns next.
It sounds like the Guv is holding us hostage to pass his multi-million dollar deal with the DCNR when all we want is the opportunity to see the falls! Stop with the politics and just make a safe path to view the falls. I find it hard to believe that there is absolutely no other way to see these fabled falls without pouring mega tax dollars into a boondoggle partnership instead of just creating a simple structured path with handrails monitored by the Game Commission. Bushkill Falls seems to have been able to do it for years without headline mishaps.
The main problem here appears to be the fact the Game Commission owns the property - it is not part of the neighboring park. The Game Commission does not "do" trails or "structured paths" as you refer to them. The solution would be to transfer the property encompassing the trail to the state park, in my opinion.

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