Elyria firefighters rescue man days after he fell from cliff, survived in wilderness

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - It's a remarkable story of survival.

Elyria firefighters recently rescued a man stranded near the Black River after he fell off of a cliff. The 30-year-old man made several good moves after his fall that rescue crews say helped keep him alive.

This wasn't your average call for help. Elyria firefighters have seen a lot, but not something like this.

"When we found the gentleman, it was a little bit of a shock. He was severely injured but completely naked," said Assistant Fire Chief Joe Pronesti.

Pronesti learned Gerald Muskiewicz was walking along Ford Road around 2 a.m. Friday when he slipped and fell off of this cliff down into the Black River far below. Depending on exactly where he fell off of the cliff, firefighters say the drop was 30 to 50 feet or more.

On the way down he broke several bones.

"Two broken legs that were severely broken, you could definitely tell they were broken, and a broken arm," Pronesti said.

He also had chest and neck injuries and his clothes were soaked. That's when survival mode kicked in.

"He had some hypothermia because he was wet, but he had the wherewithal to take his clothes off which was difficult because of his injuries. How he did it, I don't know. Most amazing thing I've seen," Pronesti said.

The man crawled over 300 yards up to the Valley of the Eagles Golf Course looking for help. As the days passed, he burrowed into the brush for warmth. That's where a maintenance worker found him Monday morning and called 911.

"Our medics in the fire department did an outstanding job stabilizing him, giving him fluids and narcotics to ease his pain," Pronesti said.

Pronesti says this is one rescue he will never forget in his nearly 30 years as a firefighter.

"To survive that, quite a story. I'm real surprised he survived," he said.

He was life-flighted to Metro Hospital and doctors say his injuries are consistent with his story.

The golf course is closed right now for renovations, that's why no one found this man until Monday.

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