Two Yale students face misdemeanor charges after New Haven firefighters suffered injuries as they rescued one of them from the face of East Rock Thursday.
Sarah Maslin ’14 and Peter Kaufman ’12 attempted to free climb the rock from the bottom when Maslin got stuck in an outcropping about 100 feet from the base and used her cell phone to call for help. Afterwards the pair was charged with reckless endangerment and with violating a local ordinance forbidding climbing the rock, according to New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman. Though the students left the scene physically unscathed, three firefighters were sent to the hospital after a rescue operation that left one with a broken ankle and another dangling from a rope for 45 minutes.
“This is another reminder why it’s against the law and why people should not climb the face of East Rock,” said City Hall spokesman Adam Joseph.
Kaufman declined to comment on the incident, and Maslin did not return several requests for comment this weekend.
Firefighters arrived on the scene soon after a 3:45 p.m. call to the fire department. Lt. Jay Schwartz was within speaking distance from Maslin when his footing gave way and he fell approximately 65 feet, Joseph said. Schwartz suffered a compound fracture to his ankle, which required surgery Thursday night. The rock and shale in the area is unstable and rocks can fall down at any moment, Joseph said, a major reason for the climbing ban.
On Friday, Joseph said Schwartz was recovering in the hospital. A second firefighter was sent to the hospital after he was struck by a falling rock, and the third was examined as a precaution after being suspended from a rope for about 45 minutes.
“The fire department did a terrific job responding to a dangerous situation, and their actions went a long way to protecting a life,” Joseph said.
Firefighters stayed in constant contact with Maslin as two crews worked simultaneously on the rescue. One squad of firefighters under Schwartz’s leadership ascended towards Maslin as another group of firefighters repelled down the mountain. Eventually, firefighter John Cretella swung close enough to Maslin that she was able to grab onto him. Maslin was safely on the ground by 5 p.m, just over an hour after her 911 call.
While Joseph is not sure of the motives of climbing the face rock, he said similar incidents happen “too often.”
The students are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 19.