This release is issued jointly by the Salisbury Fire Department and Millers Ferry Fire Department. On May 21, 2021 at 1030 pm the Miller’s Ferry Fire Department, Salisbury Fire Department, Churchland Fire Department, Rowan County Rescue Squad, Davidson County EMS, and Rowan County EMS were dispatched to the Yadkin River Bridge above Southbound I-85 for a report of a person that had jumped/ fallen off of the bridge.
Firefighters were just clearing a multi-vehicle accident that had occurred approximately an hour before just south of where this incident had occurred. Rescue 64 from Miller’s Ferry was still in the area returning to quarters and was immediately flagged down about the person who had fallen off the bridge. Rescue 64, under the command of Chief Josh Fox, arrived quickly to find an adolescent male who had fallen approximately 70-80 feet to the ground below. They were able to make verbal contact with the victim and determine that he was conscious, as rescue plans were formulated.
This incident occurred just across the bridge from a nearly identical incident that had occurred in February 2020, where a FedEx driver had fallen off the bridge, after he jumped over to avoid an oncoming tractor trailer while assisting at an auto accident. Early reports indicate that the victim in this situation also mistakenly jumped over the jersey barrier, not aware of the drop off on the other side.
Tower Ladder 1 and Rescue 2 from Salisbury fire, as well as other rescuers arrived, and a team effort was undertaken to build a rope system to lower rescuers to the victim. By chance, many of the same members who worked on the February 2020 incident were also working at this incident. As such, they were quickly able to recall their previous actions and success, and rig a very similar system using the tower ladder basket as a high-point anchor. The first rescuer over the bridge at the May 21 incident was Firefighter Jacob Vodochodsky - who was also the first rescuer over the bridge at the February 2020 Incident.
After establishing contact with the young victim, rescuers were able to package him and the victim was hoisted back to the roadway above. The victim was flown via MedFlight helicopter conscious, but with unknown injuries. The rescue took approximately 40 minutes.
This incident again highlighted the need and benefits for the collaborative efforts of the Rowan County Special Operations Task Force, which was established in May 2020. The combined efforts of many rescuers from multiple agencies was again instrumental in a very successful outcome. For interview requests, additional photos, and video from the incident, please email Battalion Chief Nick Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.