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August 13, 2011 - 1:11am

BHS student first in to help save injured girl at Indian Falls

posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, indian falls.

One of Batavia High's standout students was among a group of heroes Friday who came to the rescue of a teenage girl who hit her head on a rock when she fell several feet from a cliff at Indian Falls.

The girl, Kourtney McCorry, 17, of Spencerport, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight, but was conscious and alert after being pulled from the water.

Deputy Timothy Wescott said he was able to interview McCorry at the scene before she was transported and she was aware of her surroundings, recognized her father and understood what was happening.

She remembered, according to Wescott, climbing up the cliff of the falls with the help of her boyfriend. She grabbed the branch of a tree and the branch gave way. She fell and remembers seeing rocks below her and then she blacked out.

"She said she didn't know if she blacked out because she hit the rocks or out of fear of what might happen to her," Wescott said.

Evan Sutherland, a Batavia High School basketball player and member of the championship mock trial team, was at the falls with his friend, Andrew Hoy, a recent graduate of BHS and the Blue Devil's all-time leading scorer in basketball.  

Sutherland (left inset photo from one of his mock trial appearances this year) was the first to dive in the water to try and rescue the girl, Hoy said.

"I had just walked up and I got to like the edge of the cliff and saw her falling and she landed head first on the rocks," Hoy said. "It looked like her neck snapped. Then she went under for a few seconds and we couldn’t find her. We were still standing at the top and then she floated to the top of the water and my friend Evan Sutherland was the first one to react and he jumped into the water and there was another one of her friends over from where she fell from and he jumped in, too. They both dragged her out."

Hoy said the girl regained consciousness while she was still in the water, and Westcott said McCorry remembered coming to in the water surrounded by people.

The Batavian tried to interview Sutherland at the scene, but one of the Log Cabin's unruly patrons interfered with the interview and told him not to talk to the media.

Attempts to contact Sutherland Friday night were unsuccessful.

The legendary Log Cabin Restaurant, which includes a bar, is next to the falls and while the rescue was under way, the owner sent a representative to talk to journalists at the scene from The Batavian and the Daily News with a request that media outlets not report that the kids who swim and dive at the falls might enter the falls from the Log Cabin's property.

It's unknown how McCorry, Hoy and Sutherland, among the other youths enjoying the falls Friday, entered the area. 

The section of the Tonawanda Creek in the area of Indian Falls is owned by Genesee County and people can enter the area from near Route 77 without trespassing on private property. 

The volunteer fire departments of Indian Falls and Pembroke were the first emergency responders on scene.

Indian Falls and Pembroke volunteers set up a rope line across the creek and walked through the water to the north bank.

The Genesee County Rope Team -- made up of more than 20 volunteers from all of the county's volunteer fire departments -- responded to the scene along with Genesee County Emergency Services.

The team found a clearing in the brush along the creek's cliff on the north side and lowered a stretcher down to McCorry's location. Medical personnel were then lowered down.

It took more than 90 minutes to stabilize McCorry and slowly lift her to the top of the cliff.

Indian Falls Fire Chief Ed Mileham (bottom right inset) explained that it's a slow process to ensure both the safety of the victim and the rope crews.

"When you look at the fact that she's down 70 feet, the safest way up is up the bank," Mileham said. "We had 20 guys here from the (rope) team, they got down there, two of them set up harnesses and then they go down the bank -- yeah, by the time they get set up and everything, there's a little bit of time, but she appeared to be stable, so the guys were able to take their time and make sure they were safe before they got down in there."

Friday's mishap wasn't the first time this summer that Indian Falls and Pembroke responded to a near drowning at the falls.  

On June 5, another person looking for some recreation on the falls fell in and had to be rescued.

"It’s pretty dangerous," Mileham said. "If they don’t get far enough from the falls, they hit the rocks."

However, only two calls this summer is a far cry from how things used to be, Mileham noted.

"There’s been a problem down here for years," Mileham said. "Back in the '60s and '70s it used to be quite a place for kids to party and swim. I’ve been told that at one point there were 10 to 12 drownings here in one year from diving off the falls."

The Alabama and Oakfield fire departments also assisted at the scene.

Irene Will
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I'll say it again and again and again - MANY THANKS to all the VOLUNTEER FIREMEN [that would be UNPAID volunteers] who serve our area !!!!!
Amy Platten
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Thank goodness for all of those who take the time and volunteer at the fire departments. Without them who would put out the fires and rescue those in need.
Andy Pedro
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I have kids that go to the falls and hang out. I drove out there one time and I was amazed at the amount of kids out on the rocks. They have coolers and lawn chairs set up hanging out for hours at end. Who actually owns that property? I know other Falls in the area (Akron - Leroy) police routinely parol and kids are ticketed if they are there. I am not saying police need to monitor 24 hrs a day but it seems that this place isn't on their radar. I am not faulting the police, I am just curious. Does anyone know who's property it is?
tom hunt
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If you read the article, it states that the creek and surrounding area is owned by Genesee County.
Andy Pedro
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Ok, so I am a scanner instead of a reader, my bad. Why are kids allowed there?
Frank Bartholomew
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Howard, why would Log Cabin patrons/employees attempt to stop you from your journalistic duties? Were legal drugs influencing their actions?
Frank Bartholomew
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Andy, The short answer, the county can't make laws as fast as our Batavia City Council, they probably have to think about it first.
Howard B. Owens
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Frank, the situation was insane. First there was a woman telling Evan not to talk to me, which was highly inappropriate on her part. Then, some guy who identified himself as a manager -- not sure if he was off duty, explaining why he was shirtless and smoking, or if that's just the way managers dress there -- threw a towel over my camera, then he put his hand on my lens (Never touch my camera!) and then he threatened to "get 12 guys and drag you out of here." The Daily's fotog Mark Guttman, pro that he is, stepped back from the scene and put a wide-angle lens on his camera, ready to photograph my getting attacked. (Someone, prior to the crowd turning on me, called Mark a "douche.") A couple of minutes before, I'd seen a Sheriff's Office cruiser in the parking lot, so when this jerk of a "manager" from the restaurant is telling me to leave, I said to him, "if you want me to leave, go get a cop to tell me to leave." (feeling pretty confident that wouldn't be the likely outcome of a deputy showing up since I had every right to be there taking pictures) I then turned around and the cruiser wasn't there. I'm like, "Damn, there goes my ace in the hole." At that point, I decided I wasn't likely to get any better shots than I already had (though I would have liked to have kept documenting the ascent up the hill), and I wanted to get around to the church to get pictures of Mercy Flight when it was loaded and flying away, so I left. And look at the pictures -- there's nothing intrusive, distasteful or inappropriate about them. They show a group of dedicated volunteers working hard to try and save a young lady. How is documenting that bad? I've never been able to work in a trip to the Log Cabin for dinner, though I've wanted to. After this incident, guess I never will.
C. M. Barons
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Unfortunately for members of the "press," the "media" have been demoted from the once valued position of Fifth Estate to be construed with "liberals," "paparazzi," "ambulance chasers" and "exploiters." Perhaps the yellow ink of certain tabloids is to blame. Perhaps the tendency of ENG cameras to focus on violence and injury is to blame. Perhaps the cannibalistic finger pointing exchanged between media with conflicting editorial perspectives is to blame. I am reminded of a personal experience... In the 1970s, while employed by "The Daily News," I was covering a student riot at the Middle School on Ross Street. As I arrived on the scene then-City School Superintendent Roy Dexheimer reprimanded me, charging "people like me" cause "these things." Judging from the meager mention in the next day's paper (the City Police called Al MacWilliams, senior news reporter and dictated bounds for the article) Dexheimer was not alone in favoring repression of publicity relative to the disturbance ("Minor Disturbance at Middle School" was the headline as I recall. The article was limited to denying that the meter-maid's Cushman vehicle had been overturned- despite the fact, it had been overturned). I don't see any political agenda behind discouraging Howard from documenting the Indian Falls accident. There may have been some feeling on the part of the nearby commercial establishment that liability might be implied or represented. Additionally, there may have been sentiments for protecting the privacy of the injured girl. Then-again it may have been merely a manifestation of local xenophobia. Keep in mind, Howard, some locals actually refer to Batavia as "the City." That brands you a "city fella."
Dave Olsen
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I'm always complaining about mensa meetings I'0m never invited to. I fear there are many taking place at the ol' Log Cabin, even though I'm close enough to walk down there. I don't. Damn. I did spent many a late night in there, long ago when it was owned by my friend Mark Miano. Anecdotally, Many years ago when I was a young fella. I worked for the man who built that place, Clair Hodgins. he lived in the house next to it at the corner of Route 77. The road wasn't higher than the house until the early 80's. The original part of it is an actual log cabin, built in the very late 1940's, by Clair and his brother. additions have been made since.

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