Death on via ferrata

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Death on via ferrata

Postby Sean Ryan » Oct 5, 2006 10:17 am

The Nelson Rocks via ferrata is close to the NSS-owned Trout Caves, as well as the rest of the Franklin, WV caving area. I've done the course twice, both times with groups of cavers. You have two carabiners you always clip to a metal cable running the length of the course, so even when you're tranfering biners you're connected by at least one of them. I don't know what area she was at where she had to remove both.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06268/724816-122.stm

Amanda Joy Crawford / North Versailles native, victim in rock-climbing accident

Died Sept. 21, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Amanda Joy Crawford was a young musician, a poet and something of a free spirit who enjoyed the Virginia outdoors, her new job managing a popular restaurant in Winchester and a budding relationship with a professional rock climber she met there.

But last week a rock-climbing date with him ended in tragedy at the West Virginia climbing venue where he works.

Ms. Crawford, 24, originally from North Versailles, fell to her death Thursday at Nelson Rocks Preserve, a private recreation area in Pendleton County, near Seneca Rocks.

West Virginia state police said she fell while climbing in an area known as the via ferrata, a type of climbing route with a permanently installed safety system designed to help beginners learn to climb with less risk.

In that area, the climber is attached at all times to a steel cable which runs along the entire route.

The system is popular in Europe but new in the United States; the one at Nelson Rocks is only the second one of its kind in the country, according to its Web site.

Ms. Crawford was connected to the cable by a harness and two carabineers. But in trying to negotiate her way around a tree, police said, she unhooked her safeties and then misstepped, falling 150 feet from a rock ledge.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her death stunned her family, her new friend and the other guides at Nelson Rocks.

"The staff of the preserve mourns the loss of this beautiful young person and extends heartfelt sympathy and prayers to her family and friends," says its Web site.

Ms. Crawford will also be mourned at Buffalo Wild Wings, the restaurant in Winchester where she was recently named manager after working there for two years. Her sister, Melinda Crawford of Columbus, Ohio, said the restaurant will be closed today so customers and employees can attend the funeral service.

"It will be filled with flowers," she said. "She was loved. They all loved her."

Ms. Crawford grew up in North Versailles and graduated from East Allegheny High School in 2000. Skilled at playing the violin, mandolin and other instruments, she enrolled at Shenandoah University in Winchester to study music business but later transferred to Penn State McKeesport to major in English. She liked philosophy and poetry, but she decided to switch back to Shenandoah to study music recording.

Finally, said her sister, she concluded that college probably wasn't for her and quit.

But she loved Winchester and the emphasis on outdoor life in the Shenandoah Valley, so she stayed and worked at the restaurant. Melinda Crawford said a lot of young men approached her there, drawn by her good looks. But it was the rock climber, Brian, who appealed to her most because of his intellect.

"She was always reading, and this guy was smart. He would bring newspaper clippings in and say, 'I think you would enjoy reading this,' " said Melinda Crawford. "They had gone on hikes. It was his passion. And she loved being out in the woods."

Besides her sister, Ms. Crawford is survived by two other sisters, Deborah Crawford Ehrlich and Victoria Crawford, both of Findlay; and her parents, Gay and Ken Crawford of North Versailles.

Visitation will be today from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Alfieri Funeral Home in Wilmerding. Services will be at 7 p.m. today. The family will be sitting Shivah tomorrow and Wednesday at their home.
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Postby NZcaver » Oct 5, 2006 4:12 pm

I've also done the Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks - with some other OTR cavers. It was fun! :woohoo:

It's sad that this happened, but I really hope the family/local authorities/owners don't consider having the Via Ferrata shut down because of this unfortunate (apparently user-error) accident. That would be an even greater loss.
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Postby Anonymous_Coward » Oct 5, 2006 4:52 pm

NZcaver,

Certainly you are not implying that shutting down a via ferrata course would be a greater loss than the loss of a human life. I think I know what you meant to say, but please be more careful with your wording! A comment like that could be construed as very offensive by those involved in this incident.

I agree it sounds like user error. Another good lesson to all of us on not cutting corners when on rope. I'm sure if she unclipped both biners it was "just for a second"
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Postby NZcaver » Oct 5, 2006 5:19 pm

jaa45993 wrote:NZcaver,

Certainly you are not implying that shutting down a via ferrata course would be a greater loss than the loss of a human life. I think I know what you meant to say, but please be more careful with your wording! A comment like that could be construed as very offensive by those involved in this incident.

I agree it sounds like user error. Another good lesson to all of us on not cutting corners when on rope. I'm sure if she unclipped both biners it was "just for a second"

Hi Andy,

I hope my previous comments aren't construed by anyone as being offensive. Arguably, there is no greater loss than that of a human life. I just feel it would be a great loss to permanently shut down something which has been enjoyed by so many.

Following the inevitable safety audit, hopefully the Via Ferrata will open again and continue to provide a safe and challenging 'alternative' climbing experience. If the accident investigation reveals any specific needs to improve their rigging, equipment, procedures, or training - all the better.
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Oct 5, 2006 8:01 pm

jaa45993 wrote:Certainly you are not implying that shutting down a via ferrata course would be a greater loss than the loss of a human life. I think I know what you meant to say, but please be more careful with your wording! A comment like that could be construed as very offensive by those involved in this incident.
Indeed, it was a sad, sad incident for the family and friends of those involved.

I think the situation as described by NZ might be summed up thusly. People die every day. Thousands of them. Quite possibly millions of them. I don't know any of them. I don't get distraught by it. Someday I'll be one of them. When it's a friend or family member, it does affect me, significantly. But when I don't know any of them, I don't get all choked up.

Commonly, when someone gets hurt or killed, access to outdoor venues gets cut off. That can affect quite a few more people than the acquaintances of the victim him/herself. The tragedy is not the loss of access, it's the loss of life. The shame is the loss of access that affects so many people. It's not a worse tragedy, it's just a widerspread phenomenon.

So, I'm sure NZ shares everyone's sorry that someone had a sad even happen prematurely to a family.
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