PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A woman is recovering after tumbling at least 60 feet when she fell from a cliff Sunday.

According to officials, the incident happened Sunday evening off of Route 28, between exits 13 and 14 in Tarentum.

Police believe the group entered just off of a Bakerstown Road to get onto trails to go off-roading. However, the group had no idea their day of adventure would end the way it did.

Joanna Brake, 19, was slowly lowered down the rocky hillside after being tightly secured in a basket.

“My wife thought it was a rock coming down there. She said, ‘What do you see, a rock?’ I said, ‘No a girl just went out over the edge,’” Denny Wadding, a witness, said.

Joanna was lucky in more ways than one. She’s lucky to be alive and lucky that Wadding witnessed her fall and was able to get to her to help.

“We [were] going northbound on 28 and I just happened to look up there and this girl cartwheeled over the edge,” Wadding said.

Police say Joanna, her boyfriend, Austin Brink, and two others went off-roading Sunday, but when their Jeep got stuck, Joanna took a walk. Near the edge, the young woman told first responders she had a seizure and fell.

“She was alert, oriented somewhat. Rope evolution to get her down those last few feet,” Eureka Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Brad James said.

Emergency responders from Eureka Fire Rescue had to go up the hill an additional 40 feet from the bottom to reach her. It was a rescue effort they’ve done before.

She was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital and was last listed in fair condition Monday morning.

Her mother, Michelle Wade, says that Anna has a broken back – four bones in her lower spine. But if her pain is not chronic, she may not even need surgery.

Her voice breaking, Michelle said a doctor had a hard time believing how far Anna had fallen, adding that only 10 percent of people who fall that far live to tell the tale.

“Very, very lucky to be alive,” she said.

Mary Robb Jackson reports:

East Deer Township Police found Anna’s friends in the jeep, waiting for her to come back.

Anna’s boyfriend Austin was too shaken up by what happened to talk with us. But, incredibly, this afternoon, Anna Brake was being discharged from the hospital. She’ll be going home to heal.


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