LIMA — Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time. Safe to say, it wasn’t.
What started out as five friends hanging out at Schoonover Lake saw them later decide to seek a late night adventure by exploring the National Lime and Stone Quarry in the darkness of night.
It’s an adventure they will likely never forget.
The five are facing trespassing charges after their 2 a.m. escapade Tuesday resulted in police officers and firefighters needing to perform a daring rescue by rappelling down a cliff to pull three of the adventure seekers from the bottom of the quarry.
Geoffery Swink, 27, Kathryn Brennan, 31, Matthew Wilcox, 24, and Adam Thayer, 25, all from Cairo, and Bethany Suchar, 21, from Lima met up at Schoonover Lake Monday night. Police officials said Brennan told them Swink suggested they all go to the quarry.
The group had to walk through gates and fences with no trespassing signs hanging in plain view to reach the edge of the quarry, said Dan Mapes, director of administrative services for National Lime and Stone.
“The quarry is outlined with berms,” Mapes said. “They would have had to climb over these giant mounds of dirt to even get to the quarry.”
That is when Swink slipped on loose dirt and fell about 30 feet into the quarry. Brennan and Wilcox attempted to help Swink by climbing down into the quarry on the south ledge side.
“Swink had his cellphone out trying to look into the quarry,” said Capt. Kevin Clark of the Lima Fire Department. “They thought there was a gradual slop into the quarry that they could use to get to the bottom of it.”
Brennan called 9-1-1 at 2:24 a.m. Lima and Bath Township fire departments responded to the quarry, and were able to locate the three by communicating via cellphone.
Lima police officers and several Bath Township firefighters rappelled to the bottom of the quarry after setting up lights and finding a firm place to rappel from.
“All our guys have various levels of training,” Clark said. “We has to find guys that had the appropriate level of training to help get the people out of the quarry.”
The Lima Police Department had three officers and Bath Township had eight who could rappel to the three trapped at the bottom. The crew members broke into two teams: One team went to the bottom of the quarry and the second team stayed at the top.
At 4:17 a.m., Swink was pulled out of the quarry on a long spine board in a basket because of a possible critical head injury. By 4:30 a.m., the final person was rescued.
“I am really happy with how smoothly it all went getting them out of the quarry,” Clark said.
Bath Township Emergency Medical Service took Swink, Brennan and Wilcox to Lima Memorial Health System to be treated for their injuries. There was no update on Swink’s condition Wednesday.
“We occassionally have issues with trespassing,” Mapes said. “The individuals at the quarry are being charged with trespassing.”
Lima Fire Department plans on reviewing the events that took place Tuesday. Clark was pleased as to how well the agencies pulled together, and hopes to use this incident to help fine-tune how to work with the other agencies for future incidents.
Reach Samantha Hoelscher at 567-242-0362 or on Twitter @Lima_Hoelscher.
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