UPDATE: Man falls 40 feet at Rainbow Falls on Signal Mountain - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Man falls 40 feet at Rainbow Falls on Signal Mountain

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UPDATE: HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) A teenager is in serious condition after falling 40 feet from a cliff on Signal Mountain, Sunday. 

It took nearly five hours for rescue crews to clear a path and get him out safely. Officials say the 18-year-old was hiking barefoot with a group of friends near Rainbow Falls, when he slipped and fell. He survived the fall but suffered a serious head injury.

"People get out on these and there's moss.... it's slick," said Chief Eric Mitchell, Signal Mountain Fire Dept. "One slip and you're 30 or 40 feet down before you know it."

It took emergency crews about 40 minutes to make contact. 70 volunteers worked to clear a path off of the original trail, they walked through chest-deep poison ivy at times,  to make a short-cut. 

"You know it's easier to go down but when you're carrying somebody up, it's a lot of work," said Chief Mitchell. "Plus you're carrying several hundred pounds of equipment."

The teen was flown by Life Force to Erlanger Hospital. Officials say he was alert and answering questions at the time. 

Chief Mitchell tells Channel 3, this wasn't the first serious injury or rescue near Rainbow Falls. Sprains and twisted ankles are common on the trails. A few years ago, someone died after a fall. 

" Where we have most of our problems is when hiker get off of the trail onto a path that people have used. It looks like a trail but its not really apart of the trail....that's where you see more rock climbing and that's where we see most of our injuries," said Chief Mitchell. 

It's important to note that Park officials do not leave ropes behind. If you see one another hiker put it there and you use it at your own risk.

"You know we don't want to discourage anyone from hiking, the trails are fun it's beautiful out here," said Chief Mitchell. "We just want the people hiking on them to be safe while they're doing it."

Officials say there is a project underway - to help keep people safely on the trail. Park officials hope to re-mark the path near Rainbow falls and Rainbow Lake. 
If you do go out on the trails, officials say it's important that you make hiker safety a priority. They say you should always wear the appropriate hiking shoes, keep track of the time and stay on the marked trail. Lastly, emergency officials say you should never hike alone. At last check the victim who fell Sunday is still in critical condition. 

UPDATE: A  teenager is in serious condition after falling several feet from a cliff on Signal Mountain. It took rescuers nearly five hours to get him to safety.
"This side of the mountain is very, very steep. Very rocky," says Amy Maxwell, PIO for Hamilton County Emergency Services.

Rope rescue teams had the difficult task Sunday afternoon of maneuvering their way down the side of Signal Mountain.

Amy Maxwell says an 18-year-old fell from a cliff near Rainbow Falls.
"He does have serious, serious injuries," says Maxwell.

Maxwell says the man was hiking with a group of friends when he slipped, falling around 40 feet.
"The patient was in, under the falls area," says William Maxwell with the Signal Mountain Fire Department.

William Maxwell says getting to the patient was difficult.
"We had to chainsaw some trees out of the way. Make a trail in some places. There was a lot of loose rock that had to be cleared out of the way before the patient could be brought up," he says.

Teams had to construct a series of rope pulleys.
"We take training, rope rescue training, extensive training for this," says William Maxwell.
"They have to make sure that he is completely packaged appropriately, so that he's not moving very much at all," says Amy Maxwell.
After more than four hours the teen was airlifted to a local hospital.
"This is a pretty standard thing here in this area. We've done these before. Nothing really unusual. It's just very manpower, labor intensive," says William Maxwell.

More than 50 rescue personnel helped in the operation.

At last check, the teen is in serious condition. His identity has not been released.

PREVIOUS STORY: Multiple rescue crews are on Signal Mountain attempting to reach a high fall victim.

Hamilton County Emergency Services PIO Amy Maxwell says an 18-year-old man fell 40 feet near Rainbow Falls. She says he is in serious condition.

Rescuers were called just after 1 o'clock and have been working ever since. They are having to cut down trees to reach the man. Walden's Ridge Emergency Services, the Red Bank Fire Department, the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department, Mowbray Mountain Fire Department, and Sale Creek Volunteer Fire Department are all assisting in the rescue, which is expected to take several hours.

Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this developing story.

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