QUECHEE GORGE - A teenager sitting on a cliff along the side of the Quechee Gorge late Friday morning touched off a large-scale rescue effort through no fault of his own but the situation quickly came under control once authorities were finally able to get his attention to ask if he was okay.
"There was a young man who was sitting on a ledge with his headphones on listening to music when some folks tried yelling to him," recalled Hartford Police Major Brad Vail.
"He obviously couldn't hear them but, because of the climate and the atmosphere surrounding the Quechee Gorge these days, they did the right thing and notified us that there was a potential person either stuck or contemplating suicide," the major continued.
Hartford firefighters, police and an ambulance crew immediately responded and high-angle rope rescue teams and trailers carrying their specialized equipment were also launched from the Norwich, Lebanon and Hanover fire departments as well.
Major Vail said that as soon as the would-be rescuers were able to get the youth's attention it became apparent he was just enjoying the solitude up near the edge of the Gorge and was not in any distress.
"When we were able to contact him it turned out it was a non-event," Vail said, "He was just up there."
This year four people have jumped to their deaths at the Gorge and police have also intervened in several other cases involving credible threats. Why the number is unusually high this year isn't at all clear but Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten said the Vermont Agency of Transportation, which is responsible for the Route 4 bridge, expects to being installing a temporary suicide-deterent fence within the next month with a permanent structure contemplated at some point in the future.
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