Poconos Coal

Officials identify woman who fell to her death at Lehigh Gorge State Park

Woman dies following fall

NESQUEHONING TWP., Pa. - A female hiker fell 45 feet to her death Saturday afternoon at Lehigh Gorge State Park in Carbon County. 

On Sunday, the coroner identified the woman as Perla Cabral, 31, of New York.

An autopsy Monday morning determined she died of multiple blunt force trauma to the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. her death was ruled an accident.

The tragedy is yet another sobering reminder of just how careful hikers need to be in the park.

Each summer, the beauty of Glen Onoko Falls lures thousands of hikers to the Gorge near Jim Thorpe.

"There are several falls, but the biggest is about 70 feet," said Jerry McAward, who owns nearby Jim Thorpe River Adventures.

That scenic hike once again came at a deadly price this weekend.  Emergency crews spent three hours trying to rescue the woman who fell near the top of a waterfall. 

The coroner said she was initially responsive when rescuers reached her, but died on the way down the mountain.

"It happens a lot, not so much people falling off the falls, but falling during the falls hike," McAward said.

McAward said he sees too many reckless hikers come unprepared.

"Maybe that person who's there today was prepared, but many people aren't," he said.

Dangerous rescues are common -- so common that Jim Thorpe recently launched a controversial move to charge insurance carriers to cover rescuers' growing costs.  The fire chief said last fall that constant rescue calls from tourists were overburdening borough taxpayers.

"[Rescue crews] are here all the time, and they're not paid," McAward said.

 As tempting as this 900 foot climb is, McAward believes it might be time to close access to the Gorge.

"Glen Onoko Falls is not a hike for the faint of heart," he said.  "Undeveloped, unmarked, no steps, no bridges."

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