Updated Mon, May 20, 2013 8:41 pm
UPDATE 8:40 p.m. The Hocking Hills State Park has endured three fatalities and a fourth major fall this year in which one individual managed to survive, but the summer months and peak of hiking season have yet to begin.
A third fatality occurred Monday afternoon when an individual reportedly fell to their death from the top part of Cedar Falls. The name of the individual and details surrounding their death were not released by press time.
The second fatality occurred just two days earlier on Saturday afternoon when a 52-year-old Centerville man plunged 109 feet to his death at the Big Springs Rappelling area while on a weekend rappelling trip with Adventure Scouting Group.
Peter R. Livingston was visiting the Hocking Hills with other scout leaders in the group and was preparing to lower his gear down the face of the cliff when he lost his footing and plummeted 109 feet head first into a one-foot pool of water below the cliff.
According to Hocking County Coroner Dave Cummin, the group had just finished for the day and were in the process of lowering the gear down the cliff when Livingston untethered himself from his line. Two scout leaders standing nearby saw him untethered and yelled at Livingston to hook back up to the harness for safety reasons.
“One of the female scout leaders told him he couldn’t be near the edge without being tethered,” Cummin said. “He tethered himself back up, but then apparently untethered again and the weight of the bag he was lowering pulled him over the cliff.”
“It’s common procedure for the scouts to come to this area and practice rappelling,” he continued. “The other two scout leaders were watching out for his safety, but unfortunately he didn’t listen.”
Cummin also stated that Livingston was very experienced in rappelling and was a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force.
An autopsy performed by the Franklin County Coroner’s office revealed that Livingston landed on his right side with his head striking the ground first. His skull was shattered along with all of his ribs.
He also suffered massive internal injuries, but had no internal bleeding, which is consistent with an instant death from the impact.
Livingston is survived by his wife, Sandy, and two adult sons.
Those responding to the scene of the accident included Hocking County EMS, the Laurelville Fire Department, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Hocking Hills State Park officials and the coroner’s office.
"The Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers sincere condolences to the victim’s family and the young people he mentored through the Boy Scouts of America," stated Mark Bruce, public information officer for ODNR.
"The ODNR Divisions of Parks and Forestry hold the safety of our guests as our top priority. All outdoor recreation, from swimming to hiking, carries risks and ODNR employees and law enforcement officers work hard to educate and inform guests about those risks and to eliminate them when possible," he continued.
"ODNR regularly monitors conditions at our facilities," he added. "From beaches to trails and all points in between, we routinely review signage, barriers and markings to make sure guests understand safe practices and how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. We also promote the use of all appropriate safety technology when on state-owned land, from roping equipment to life jackets. More than a million guests visit the Hocking Hills region each year and our goal is to make sure their visits are safe and enjoyable."
Last month on April 27, 22-year-old Meg Beasley of Chillicothe fell 100 feet at Cantwell Cliffs in the Hocking Hills State Park and survived by landing on her feet, although she suffered extensive injuries and was taken to Grant Medical Center to undergo several surgeries.
Just a few hours before Beasley's fall on the same day, a sophomore from Ohio Christian University fell 60 feet to his death at Old Man's Cave. Nineteen-year-old Josias Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hocking County Coroner Dave Cummin was called to the scene of a fall at Cedar Falls in the Hocking Hills State Park Monday afternoon after one individual reportedly fell from the top of the falls.
This makes the third fatality of the year. A fourth individual fell recently, but survived.
Further details as they become available.