Young man dead after Signal Hill fall

Colin MacLean
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Police call tumble from trail an accident

It was the news no one standing on Signal Hill wanted to hear on Sunday.

A young man was found dead after falling from a cliff on the famous hill’s North Head Trail.

The news hit everyone waiting there in the biting cold wind, from the man’s family who’d been anxiously looking for news, to the grim-faced emergency personnel who’d gone about their business with careful determination.

“I’d do anything to get him off that cliff,” one officer was overheard saying.

But it was not to be.

The man, whom the RNC have not yet identified, was pronounced dead a short while after searchers found him.

All that was known about him as of press deadline Sunday was that he was in his late teens.

He had been walking on the trail with a second young man when he somehow fell over the side of a cliff next to one of the hill’s busiest walking trails. The RNC is calling the fall an accident but is continuing to investigate.

Police were first called to Signal Hill at about 12 p.m. Other emergency resources were also tapped including the High Angle Rescue Unit from the St. John’s Regional Fire Department, a small fast rescue craft, a Universal helicopter and a coast guard vessel.

Searchers concentrated their efforts on one area, which is where the man’s companion said he was last seen.

Searchers had to contend with not only the steep cliff, but also the long trek to get equipment from the Signal Hill parking lot to the search area. While battling the cold wind they raced against a rapidly setting sun.

The effort was a challenge, but the rescue crews performed admirably, said shift Supt. Derek Chafe with the St. John’s Regional Fire Department.

“He was in a bit of a challenging spot for our team members to locate. They worked extremely hard to extricate him,” said Chafe.

“They went above and beyond to manage this,” he added.

Chafe also offered his regret as to the day’s end.

“We really don’t like these types of results. We prefer to be able to take someone to an ambulance. It’s very unfortunate when we have to do this,” he said.

The man’s body was found about 2:30 p.m. but it took rescuers at least another hour to recover him.

Rescue crews had to lower the man’s body to the water’s edge, get it into a fast rescue craft and then convey it to a waiting coast guard vessel.

The police have notified the man’s next of kin and indicated that more information may be available today.

Twitter: TelegramMacLean

Organizations: Regional Fire Department

Geographic location: Signal Hill

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Recent comments

  • Jonathan
    December 30, 2011 - 09:26

    I seriously think the trail should be closed down after Labor Day, and re-open again during the Victoria Day weekend. I really am glad I have no desire to walk the North Head Trail in the future at all. If I tried to walk such trail, I would regret it greatly, even if I didn't get injured or killed. But warning signs are there for a reason - always treat them like gospel! And this is not the first time anyone was killed on the North Head Trail - if memory serves me correctly, a 17-year old girl died during Labor Day weekend in 1985. Quite a shocker, and it allowed me to think twice before walking such trail. After this latest mishap, I definitely have no desire to walk such trail again. GOLDEN RULE: If you don't know how to use the trail well, or are not used to it, DON'T WALK THE TRAIL. Plain and simple. There are tons of other trails in the city to walk. The trails in Pippy Park and Kent's Pond, and even the Quidi Vidi trail are much safer. My condolences go to the boy's family and friends. I bet they had a rough Christmas this year.

  • The Tremblay family
    November 07, 2011 - 23:29

    Our deepest condolences to the family that mourns a good kid. We only spent a little time but no one should go through such a tragedy God bless from Acton Ontario

  • Jason S
    November 07, 2011 - 14:58

    Does anyone know if it was near the part of the trail where you have to hold onto the chain? I've done that a couple times and it shocked me how dangerous that is for how few serious precautions the city has taken. I'm sure there are warning signs, but it's a tourist trail. There are often warning signs that people don't take seriously. That place really ought to be, or even barred off at times. It amazes me how dangerous it is, particularly in bad weather, for what is otherwise known as a popular tourist attraction. All sympathies for the young man and his family..

    • Dave A
      November 09, 2011 - 15:26

      Common sense people. Don't climb dangerous cliffs. Take the signs that our wonderful city has provided us seriously. I grew up in the area and know better than to stray too far from the trails. And please don't try and tell me that the trails are dangerous in winter or bad weather........use your head......why would you walk signal hill trail in conditions that are not the best? Really?! Really!? My condolances.

  • Ruby
    November 07, 2011 - 12:20

    my sincere condolences to rhe family of this young man. God be with you in this difficult time.

  • margie
    November 07, 2011 - 11:16

    So Sorry to hear that the young man has died. I am from that area and I just wish parks canada would close that area off once the summer is over. That area is very danger especially when you are not use to that walking trail, between the slippery rocks and the narrow paths I think winter should be a NO NO..

    • Mike
      November 07, 2011 - 15:40

      They do close that trail down in the winter. It's probably not closed just now, but within the next few weeks it will be. Sorry to hear about this.