Crews recover hiker's body after fall in New Haven - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Crews recover hiker's body after fall in New Haven

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Crews working early Monday morning to recover the hiker's body. (WFSB photo) Crews working early Monday morning to recover the hiker's body. (WFSB photo)
A man died after falling off a cliff at West Rock State Park on Sunday. (WFSB photo) A man died after falling off a cliff at West Rock State Park on Sunday. (WFSB photo)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

Crews retrieved the body of a hiker after he fell hundreds of feet at a park in New Haven Monday.

Investigators said the man was in rough terrain at West Rock State Park on Sunday when he lost his balance and plummeted hundreds of feet off a cliff.

"Our investigation at this time is that its nothing more than an accident," said Kyle Overturf, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection EnCon police. "We've interviewed witnesses and we're still investigating the circumstances of what exactly occurred."

Officials said the body was recovered on Monday morning by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection police with the help of New Haven firefighters.

“Our operation from the bottom was unsuccessful, so we had no choice but to send a rescuer over the edge,” New Haven Fire Chief Matthew Marcarelli said. 

The state medical examiner was on the scene to identify the victim.

Before the recovery, crews said the recovery effort was so tough that they had to re-group and return around 6 a.m. 

"It's very tough terrain,” said Sgt. Keith Williams, DEEP. “It's a steep cliff. It goes down a few hundred feet."

Firefighters said the man was likely alone at the time, but two others close by saw him disappear from their view. Those eyewitnesses were who called police.

Police said there are hand rails for safety and that the man may have gone past the trails that had them.

Emergency responders said they were dispatched around 6 p.m. on Sunday.

"One of our rescuers that we did send to do some reconnaissance of the area located a deceased victim about three hundred feet down,” Marcarelli said.

Investigators said it is not recommended that hikers walk in that during the evening hours, especially when it is getting dark. 

"There's a reason, there's a fence there and boundaries there. And [they need to] respect those boundaries," Overturf said.

They haven’t released his identity, but said he’s a man in his 20s.

The park re-opened on Monday afternoon.

No matter the reason, those near the park are saddened by the whole ordeal.

“I feel very sad that a young man lost his life, but it’s very dangerous up there,” Lillian Fortes, who lives near the park, said.

New Haven Fire Chief Allyn Wright said the department provided two counseling sessions for the firefighters who witnessed the recovery of the body.

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