Cornell engineering student Deric Long ’04 was rescued from the bottom of Cascadilla Gorge by Cornell student Julia Frey and Jeffrey Hetzel at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning after being spotted by Frey from the trail adjacent to the gorge.
Frey, a 21-year-old Cornell student, spotted Long in the water as she was jogging. She immediately rushed down the path and called for help. While Frey and Jeffrey Hetzel — who is an employee in the School of Hotel Administration — pulled Long out of the gorges, a third passerby called 911. Long was taken by helicopter to Robert Packer Memorial Hospital in Sayre, Pa. where he was upgraded from serious to stabilized condition and moved out of the intensive care unit on Saturday.
“Basically I was walking to work; Julia came right up and said she had spotted Deric in the stream,” Hetzel said. “He was beyond the path towards the footbridge, 100 yards beyond the little trolley bridge stuck in the water. I would have never seen him, but Julia came down the path and ran up to me calling for help.”
Frey and Hetzel then pulled Long out of the 18-inch deep water while a third man called 911.
“He was conscious and propped up on one elbow as if he was trying to pull himself on to shore. She [Frey] suggested we pull him out, so we did and kept him awake and conscious until the police arrived,” Hetzel said.
While the incident is still under investigation, it has been confirmed that Long was speaking on his cell phone with his mother at 1:30 a.m. on Friday. After losing the connection with her son, Long’s mother called the Cornell Police who then checked Phi Gamma Delta, where Long lives, and issued a missing person’s report, according to Linda Grace-Kobas of the Cornell News Service.
“Police checked our house at about 2 a.m.,” said Michael Mraz ’03, president of Phi Gamma Delta. “When we heard he was missing, 10 guys from our house joined the police in searching the paths home and all around Collegetown. We were up all night looking for him.”
According to Grace-Kobas, the police have still been unable to interview Long, but he is expected to be released from the hospital either today or tomorrow.
Whether or not the incident was accidental is still being investigated, but it has been confirmed that Long was alone up until the time he lost contact with his mother. Hetzel said that the area in which he was found is slippery with leaves. He also noted that the gash on the side of Long’s head had been previously bleeding but had dried, and that Long’s wristwatch was stuck at 1:30 a.m.
Long suffered a head wound as well as various bumps and bruises.
Mraz said that Long definitely wanted to be back this semester.
“He is an all-around great guy,” Mraz said. “He is extremely smart with great grades, an engineer, and a member of Mensa [a society for people with high IQ]. He was also a great brother in the house.”
Both the Ithaca Fire Department and Hetzel credited Frey with finding Long and helping to save his life.
“She’s really the one who took control and responded,” Hetzel said to the Ithaca Journal. “This is one of those things you never think about. When it does, you know you have to get involved. It’s someone’s life.”
Archived article by Gautham Nagesh