National Park Service offers safety tips after Fayette County rock climbing accident

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – It’s about a half mile up the Butcher Branch trail where someone fell nearly 50 feet rock climbing on Sunday afternoon.

National Park Service District Supervisor Dave Bieri has seen massive crowds enjoying the summer at the New River Gorge and trails around the area, but these accidents are never easy to process.

“We respond when something gets called in and that was the case yesterday,” Bieri said. “Somebody called us and we have law enforcement rangers that respond to that sort of thing.”

Trails like Butcher Branch are open to the public and aren’t monitored during the day. Bieri says it’s tough to make sure everyone on the trails is staying safe.

“The most important thing is if you’re going rock climbing, to make sure you’ve got the skills and the equipment,” Bieri said. “And you know how to use things.”

Bieri added that accidents like what happened on Sunday are rare. That shouldn’t keep the public from wanting to come out and participate in activities such as rock climbing, but you need to be prepared to do it safely.

“There’s companies that offer that sort of thing,’ Bieri said. “They’ll train you and show you how to properly use equipment and give you all of those safety tips.”

Bieri says outdoor activities are almost more popular during the pandemic. He’s hopeful people will still safely enjoy the beauty of the area, even when dangerous accidents happen.

“There’s always inherent dangers,” Bieri said. “But, for the amount of people that go here, it’s very rare that you have some kind of accident like that.”

More safety tips for rock climbing include going out with a company or a professional, making sure someone knows where you’re going and when to expect you back and taking a map of the area so you know where you’re going to be.

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