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Elderly hiker rescued after mishap near Eagle Falls

Emergency officials from Whitley and McCreary counties had to use ropes and a Stokes basket to carry a 70-year-old woman up a 30-foot embankment off a trail at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park late Tuesday afternoon.

Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said that he was notified about 3:30 p.m. concerning a missing woman, Melva Anderson, 70, of Stiwell, Kan.

Moses said that Anderson had been hiking with her husband at the falls, and had gone ahead of him for some reason when she slipped down an embankment off of trail number nine.

Woodbine and Oak Grove volunteer fire and rescue officials and McCreary County Search and Rescue officials responded to the scene with 20 volunteer searchers.

About 4:06 p.m., Moses received notice that the woman had been located, but that officials would need a Stokes basket to carry her out of the forest since she was about 1.5 miles down the trail. It took slightly more than an hour to carry her out.
Fortunately, Anderson only suffered a sprained ankle and her body temperature dropped due to exposure.

McCreary County EMS examined her at the scene, and after her body temperature increased some more, Moses said they planned to release her.

"With her age and everything, it could have been a lot worse. We are thankful we got down there as quick as we did," Moses added.

He noted that it was sad when the Williamsburg-Whitley County Rescue Squad closed down, but there have been some positives in the aftermath.

Previously, the rescue squad would only have 15 or 16 people trained in ground rescue, but since the volunteer fire departments have taken over that duty, Moses said there are about 60 people now trained in Whitley County.

Several have taken a man tracker class in addition to standard search and rescue classes, which should be a benefit in the future, Moses said.

He said several volunteers had to be told not to respond Tuesday because so many were already on the scene.
Williamsburg Fire and Rescue was placed on standby for Tuesday's search in the event the county's mule vehicle was needed.

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