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Firefighters Rescue Retired Reverend After Tumble Down Hillside

(Photo Credit: NewsChopper 2/KDKA)

(Photo Credit: NewsChopper 2/KDKA)

John Shumway John Shumway
John Shumway joined KDKA-TV in October 1988 as a General Assignment...
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McCANDLESS (KDKA) — Firefighters and a Good Samaritan came to the rescue when a man fell over a hillside in the North Hills Wednesday and could not get back up.

McCandless firefighters made fairly quick work of the rescue, but let’s start with how they got there in the first place.

“He just retired three weeks ago from 40 years in the ministry and he’s been itching to get out and do some projects,” Joyce Gleason, the victim’s wife, said.

The past 24 years as the senior pastor at First Lutheran on Grant Street, the staff tells KDKA they knew the Rev. David Gleason was not about to slow down in retirement.

And on Wednesday morning, Rev. Gleason grabbed his tools and headed for the hillside behind his home.

“I think he was just cutting back some twigs and clearing out some stuff; you know, guys like to putter, so this is what he wanted to do and it backfired on him,” said Joyce.

Backfired while he was in the midst of cutting down a tree and lost his footing. Joyce came home during the commotion.

“He was already down the hill and he said that he slipped and flipped,” she said. “I heard him say that he heard something snap, so he fractured either his upper leg bone or his hip.”

Thirty feet below his backyard, he lay unable to get up.

“He didn’t have his cell phone with him; it was sitting up in the kitchen,” he wife added.

But he got a passerby’s attention and the firefighters came running.

“We made a decision to bring him up. It was closer, and it was a little more stable,” said Highland Volunteer Fire Department Chief Shawn O’Brien.

It was something the volunteers practice every Tuesday evening.

“We did it just like we do in training, and it worked out very well,” said Chief O’Brien.

Joyce watched as the firefighters brought her husband up and to the waiting ambulance.

“Thank God for all of them,” she said. “I don’t know how they got him up that hill and out of the woods.”

Rev. Gleason arrived topside and apologized to his wife.

“I can’t let him do this when he’s by himself anymore,” she said.

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