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Elderly woman rescued from tree hanging off edge of cliff over creek in New York

Officials in western New York rescued an elderly woman they found clinging to a tree branch on the edge of a cliff over a creek Thursday.

Beverly Blewett, 86, said she was raking leaves in her backyard Thursday afternoon when the ground gave out from underneath her around 1:30 p.m., the Niagara-Gazette reported. She then tumbled about 30 feet before latching on to a tree that hung over a cliff above the edge of Eighteen Mile Creek in Niagara County, N.Y.

Blewett screamed for help but wasn’t immediately heard. She clung to the tree for about an hour before a neighbor heard her screams and called police.

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Rescue crews from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department and the Border Patrol, who were on a joint operation nearby, responded to the scene.

“We were just down the street,” Niagara County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Scott Lombardo told the Niagara-Gazette. “We just passed it. Who knows how long she would have been able to hang on?”

Crews lowered a 50-foot rope to her, which she was able to tie around herself. Then, the rescue crew hooked a cable to a fire truck and sent a basket stretcher to Blewett. She strapped herself in and workers lifted her up.

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Blewett suffered minor bruises and scratches. She was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center as a precaution.

According to the Niagara-Gazette, houses in the area have short backyards, and immediately beyond grass and a few trees, there’s a cliff and a jagged drop of more than 100 feet into the creek. Eighteen Mile Creek is a tributary of Lake Ontario, and the name refers to its distance from the Niagara River to the west.

“I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff, but never anything like it,” Lombardo said, adding that he had been with the Sheriff's Department for 20 years. “The sun and moon must have been in the right place.” 

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