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Boy, 5, injured in fall from cliff

May 20, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - A 5-year-old boy was hospitalized with a head injury after falling at least 25 feet from a cliff above the C&O Canal near Sharpsburg on Saturday, park service officials reported.

The boy's condition was listed as stable at Washington County Hospital on Saturday afternoon, said Todd Gearman, acting district ranger for the Western Maryland District of the C&O Canal. Gearman said he wasn't authorized to release the name of the injured boy.

The boy was conscious when he was taken from the canal bed where he had fallen at about 11:50 a.m., Gearman said.

The boy was with a group of five or six other children and one adult when he fell from a cliff above the Killiansburg Caves, Gearman said.

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The cliff is about three miles northwest of the Lock 38 parking lot and is roughly between mile posts 75 and 76 along the canal, Gearman said.

The caves are also known as the Sharpsburg shelter caves because that was where many Sharpsburg residents hid during the Civil War battle at Antietam.

"The story we have is that they were sliding ... or climbing on a rock at the top and somehow he ended up going over the edge of the cliff," Gearman said.

Gearman said the cliff at that spot is a sheer, straight surface. He said it appears the group walked up to the top of the cliff from the side.

He said there is not a clear path to get to the top of the cliff. Also, there are no fences or signs that would deter people from going to the top of the cliff.

"As with most of the park, it's open for people's enjoyment," Gearman said.

When asked if this incident might prompt park officials to put any signs or fencing around the top of the cliff, Gearman said it's too early to tell whether park management will want to make any changes to the park.

Gearman said the park service is investigating the incident.

Blair Williamson, a dispatcher at C&O Canal Headquarters in Sharpsburg for almost nine years, said he's never heard of a problem with children being in the area around the caves or the cliff.

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