Monday, March 14, 2016

Boy Killed By Falling Rock At Roaring Brook Falls

A 12-year-old boy was killed when struck by a falling rock at the base of Roaring Brook Falls in the town of Keene on Sunday afternoon.

State Police identified the victim as Connor McLaughlin of Greenwich, a small town southeast of the Adirondack Park in Washington County.

The boy had hiked a quarter-mile from State Route 73 to the base of the falls with his uncle, Jesse A. Malone, 40, a little after 1 p.m. Malone was the boy’s guardian.

While they were looking at the falls, a large boulder became loose about 100 feet above them and hurtled downward, striking the boy. The uncle tried to grab the boy but slipped and suffered minor injuries, according to state police.

The rock was estimated to be two feet wide by three feet long. One report said it likely weighed about 600-800 pounds.

State Police Lt. William Williams told the Glens Falls Post-Star that the rock was dislodged naturally. “They heard the noise, but by that point it was already falling,” he said.

Essex County Coroner Frank Whitelaw said an autopsy on Monday revealed that the two primary injuries were a fractured skull and bruised heart. He added that it’s uncertain where the boulder struck the boy. The skull fracture could have been caused by the impact of the boulder or by the impact of being thrown against rocks at the base of the falls.

Whitelaw said the boulder fell from an area to the right of the cascade, not from the cascade itself. He said it may have come loose due to ground thaw and rain softening the soil.

Located near St. Huberts at the base of Giant Mountain, Roaring Brook Falls is well-known to hikers, rock climbers, and ice climbers. Several people have fallen to their deaths at the falls over the years. The large cascade can be seen from Route 73.

State forest rangers, Essex County deputies, and local firefighters responded to the Sunday’s incident. Volunteers from the Keene and Keene Valley fire departments and Forest Ranger Jim Giglinto, who is a critical-care EMT, worked for 45 minutes to try to revive the boy.

Photo by Phil Brown: Roaring Brook Falls as seen from Route 73 in autumn.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

10 Responses

  1. Charlie s says:

    What are the odds at being right where this rock fell when it fell? How strange!

  2. Brian S. says:

    Thats tragic. RIP Little guy. Condolences to his family.

  3. Justin Farrell says:

    Wow that is extremely sad news!
    I’m sure this incident will no doubt add to the legend that Roaring Brook Falls is a haunted place!
    Thoughts & prayers to family & friends!

  4. Boreas says:

    A terrible tragedy. My condolences to his family and friends.

  5. Eric Hamlin says:

    Wow incredibly tragic. Our deepest condolences to the family.

  6. Walker says:

    Something seems odd about this (besides the incredibly bad luck). A rock falling 100 feet should be going somewhere near 100 mph when it hits the ground. If a 6-800 pound rock going ~100 mph hits a child in the back, you wouldn’t thing there would be much likelihood that you would be able to perform CPR on the body. Maybe I’m missing something?

  7. Phil Brown says:

    I added a few details after talking to the Essex County coroner.

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