PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A 21-year-old Slippery Rock student is thankful to be alive after she fell 80 feet down a cliff at McConnells Mill State Park.
Jocie Van Kirk miraculously survived her fall on Sunday near Breakneck Ridge.
“I remember my legs just coming out from under me,” Van Kirk said.
The senior at Slippery Rock University said she was hiking with some friends over the weekend.
Van Kirk said she remembers watching her footing when they got to the area near Breakneck Ridge.
“I hit the spot I didn’t want to hit,” Van Kirk said. “I think I might have slipped on some leaves or something.”
She said she tried to grab onto anything she could as she tumbled 80 feet down the ridge.
“I was terrified. I did not think I would make it,” Van Kirk said.
A friend called 911 and a bystander tried to calm her down until emergency responders got to the scene.
She was life-flighted to UPMC Presbyterian
“I have a fracture in my back, a fracture in my neck and two fractures in my pelvis,” said Van Kirk.
She also has several scrapes and bruises, but nothing that requires surgery. Van Kirk’s doctor said she’s very lucky.
“Roughly 10 percent mortality or death rate per 10 feet you fall. So some 70 feet of free fall you expect 70 percent of patients to die from their injuries,” said Dr. Joshua Brown with Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
And Jocie wants to be very clear on what she wasn’t doing before the fall.
“I was not taking a selfie. I did not have my phone on me. My friend had it in his pocket because I didn’t want to lose it out of my leggings because I didn’t have pockets. I was not drinking or under any kind of influence,” she said.
Van Kirk knows she may have a long road to recovery.
She will have to go through physical therapy and her doctor said she may have to stay off her feet for a while.