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Rankin woman who fell off Route 28 cliff should make full recovery

| Monday, April 7, 2014, 12:07 p.m.

The young Rankin woman who fell almost 80 feet off a cliff on Sunday in East Deer is expected to make a full recovery, her mother said on Monday.

“God was with her,” said Michelle Wade, mother of Joanna Brake, 19, who fell from a cliff along Route 28 while she was looking for help for friends who got stuck while four-wheeling in a Jeep.

Brake broke four bones in her back and sustained facial lacerations the fall, according to Wade. Despite that, she already has been standing and walking a little, according to Wade. Brake's back is expected to heal without surgery, she said.

Brake might be released from the UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh in the next several days, depending on the stability of her fractures, according to Wade, a Pittsburgh resident.

Brake lost her footing “because she wasn't paying attention,” Wade said. She wasn't wearing proper shoes for the rugged terrain that is typical of the steep bluffs along that section of Route 28.

“She blacked out on the way down,” Wade said. “She doesn't remember what stopped her fall.”

Brake was conscious when Eureka Fire and EMS and other emergency personnel rescued her from the hillside and had to lower her to the ground in a rescue basket.

“I was terrified, I didn't know what to expect,” Wade said. “We thought the worst. Then they told us she was stable and had just had some fractures.”

An emergency room doctor told Wade that only about 10 percent of patients survive such a long fall, Wade said.

“And she fell that far because there was a witness. And I would like to thank him, whoever that is,” she said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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