Niagara Gazette —
NEWFANE — An 86-year-old woman, who was clinging to a tree branch on the edge Eighteen Mile Creek, was rescued in a joint effort the the Niagara County Sheriff's Department, Border Patrol, volunteers from Miller Hose and Mercy Flight on Thursday.
Beverly Blewett, 2576 Main St., was raking leaves in her backyard when the ground gave out about 1:30 p.m. She tumbled about 30-feet before latching on to a tree. The woman screamed for help, but was not immediately heard. A neighbor than heard the ci was heard by a neighbor, The neighbor called 911 about 2:30 p.m.
Capt. Capt. Scott Lombardo of the NCSD and Sal Caccamo of the Border Patrol were on a joint operation and had just driven by the Route 78 home which is diagonally across the road from Budwey Market and Eastern Niagara Hospital-Newfane.
"We were just down the street," Lombardo said. "We just passed it. Who knows how long she would have been able to hang on?"
The officers had 50-feet of rope in their cars. They found her cane at the site. They tied the cane to the rope and threw it down to her. Blewett was able to tie it around herself.
Miller Hose personnel arrived and sent a Stokes Basket to the victim. The stretcher is designed to be used when there are obstacles or other hazards in the way. It is used in confined spaces, slopes and in wooden terrain.
The rescue team hooked a cable to the fire truck and strapped Blewett in the basket. With the help of pulleys, the woman was lifted out of harm's way. Blewett suffered bruises and scratches and was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center as a precaution.
Houses on the west side of Main Street have short backyards. After some grass and a few trees, there is a cliff and a jagged drop of more than 100 feet into the creek.
Abut a dozen neighbors, fearing what happened, gathered in front of her house. Traffic stopped and slowed down. Sheriff's vehicles were on the lawn.
"I've seen a lot of weird stuff, but I never anything like it," said Lombardo who has been with the sheriff's office for nearly 20 years. "The sun and moon must have been in the right place."