PORT DEPOSIT — Water Witch Deputy Chief Andrew Bannon calls Rebecca Ashman “lucky” because the 19-year-old Havre de Grace woman survived relatively unscathed after falling approximately 50 feet off a Port Deposit cliff on Tuesday.
“I couldn’t believe she was conscious and alert,” Bannon said Thursday.
Ashman — a shortstop for the Cecil College softball team — was hiking up the cliff face to “The Eye,” a popular hiking point that is actually on private property, with friends around 5 p.m.
According to a Facebook page dedicated to “The Eye,” the graffiti art was originally painted on the rock face overlooking the Susquehanna River by a group of friends in the summer of 1972. At first, they painted a comet, but from a half-mile away it looked terrible — like an orange ice cream cone — so they eventually decided to paint an eye. They brought in a commercial artist from Newark, Del., who outlined his design for the eye, and the rest painted it in.
Access to the unique site is only possible along a dangerous trail that starts at ground level, ending on a ledge with the painting.
Ashman told her rescuers from Water Witch, Cecil County Department of Emergency Services and Harford County Technical Rescue that she had just reached that pinnacle when she slipped.
On her Facebook page, Ashman reported suffering multiple cuts and scrapes as well as damage to her liver and lungs and a broken finger. She said she “feel(s) like I have been hit by a train.”
Bannon said he was expecting much worse after hearing the emergency dispatch. First reports were for someone who had fallen 150 feet and was lying on the railroad tracks.
Ashman landed about 70 feet from from the bottom. Rescuers had to get up to her with equipment, then bring her down to the ground.
“We hooked up ropes and rigging and brought her down in a Stokes basket,” Bannon said.
Ashman was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore from Water Witch’s Tome Highway station.
“She was extremely blessed,” Bannon said.
Through social media, the teenager is urging others not to try to climb “The Eye” as she did.
“As beautiful as the eye and the view from the top is, not only is it trespassing, but it really is a dangerous place. I know personally I will never be going back again and I really hope some of you will weigh the risks before you go up just to see a nice view and get some cool pictures,” she wrote. “Don’t let my survival underestimate the true risk, the next person to fall at the cliffs ... or any other overlook may not be as lucky as I was.”