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Woman falls from 80-foot cliff near Route 28 in East Deer

| Sunday, April 6, 2014, 11:52 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
East Deer and Tarentum firefighters work to rescue a woman on a cliff on the Route 28 Expressway who fell from an upper tier and became trapped on the hillside on Sunday evening, April 6, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
East Deer and Tarentum firefighters begin their descent down a cliff on the Route 28 Expressway with a female patient in a rescue basket who fell from an upper tier and became trapped on the hillside on Sunday evening, April 6, 2014.

A 19-year-old woman was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital on Sunday night after falling from a cliff along Route 28 southbound in East Deer.

The woman was “conscious and semi-alert” when Eureka Fire and EMS took her to East Deer Township Memorial Park about 8 p.m. for pickup, Eureka Fire Deputy Chief Brad James said.

Police were not identifying the woman on Sunday night or the hospital to which she was taken.

According to Tarentum police, the woman was with three others driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle on a trail at the Tarentum-East Deer border. When the vehicle got stuck, the woman went to look for help along a cliff above the expressway between exits 14 and 13, Officer Steve Freiberg said.

As she approached the edge of the cliff, the woman had a medical emergency and fell about 80 feet onto an area of flat ground off the southbound shoulder.

A northbound motorist saw the fall and called 911 at about 7 p.m.

“I saw her do two to three somersaults in the air,” said Denny Wadding of Dayton, who pulled over to help. “She was just flying around like a rag doll. I thought for sure she was dead.”

When Wadding got to the woman, about 60 yards up a hillside from the road, she was on her back, “fading in and out of consciousness and bleeding badly from the chin.” East Deer police and fire departments arrived with Eureka shortly after, he said.

Emergency responders stabilized her neck on a stretcher and lowered her by rope to an ambulance down the steep hillside.

Route 28 southbound was reduced to a single lane from 7:10 to 8 p.m. for about half a mile. Both lanes were closed for about 10 minutes while crews raised the woman into the ambulance.

The woman told police she has a history of seizures, according to Freiberg. Her condition was not available Sunday night, and emergency responders declined to answer questions about the nature of her injuries.

“We're still trying to figure out why she came up this way instead of going down Bakerstown Road, near where the vehicle got stuck,” he said. “She wasn't really with it, as you might imagine.”

After the woman told police she was with one other person, an emergency helicopter searched the area from which she fell. It was called off after police found the vehicle and its occupants around 8:15 p.m.

The woman's three companions were not available for an interview Sunday night.

Fawn and Brackenridge police assisted with traffic.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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