Woman who fell off Mount Bonnell recovering

With panoramic views of the Colorado River and downtown Austin, the trails on Mount Bonnell are a popular attraction. Friday morning, Alyssa Naugle, brought her parents and two friends to the park.

"It’s not a bad weather day, and taking advantage of it,” said Naugle.

But getting there requires steep climbs, navigating rocky pathways, and not getting too close to the drop-offs. “It is pretty serious, but as long as you are careful, it’s well-marked and roped off, so it’s a really nice area,” said Jarod Laguine

On several occasions the view here has gone from stunning to dangerous.

That’s what happened Thursday night when a woman fell off the edge. It was a 40 to 50 foot drop and that required the need for first responders who specialize in high angle rescues. Austin firefighter T.J. Buddrus   reached the woman by repelling down the cliff.

He found her caught up in the tree canopy, hanging upside down.

"She was in a precarious situation, and the environment surrounding her, being at night and the rain, and on a slope and in a tree, was something you don’t really expect,” said Buddrus.

If that wasn't enough of a challenge, there was a thick cactus patch the woman had to be cut out of.

"Whatever you can do, from tearing it apart, to chopping it away with whatever tool you have, breaking tree limbs,  securing her by harness, rotating her to a position where she wouldn't slide down the mountain, it was a little bit here and there,” said Buddrus.

A STAR flight team flew in because climbing out wasn't an option. It took about 30 minutes to get the woman on board and off to UMC Brackenridge.

"I believe she was very lucky, very lucky," said firefighter Duane Carter.

The station that responded to the 911 call is at the base of Mt. Bonnell. According to Carter, they have so far this year made about a half dozen similar rescues. Despite that, he doesn't believe more fencing is the answer.

"If we start putting up more safety features and stuff like it’s going to actually take away from the Mt Bonnell area itself and eventually it’s not going to be anything you want to go up there and look at and stuff like that,” said Carter.

So Carter and other emergency responders are reminding visitors, the first step on the trail should always be a cautious one, and never one that's too close to the edge.

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