New Castle News

May 15, 2010

McConnell's Mill fatal fall victim identified

Patrick E. Litowitz
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A Cranberry Township man who died while attempting to rescue an injured teenager at McConnell’s Mill State Park has been identified.

Donald Spillane, 47, of Callery Road fell to his death about 7 p.m. Friday in the Kildoo Bridge area of the park.

A 17-year-old Slippery Rock Township female suffered severe injuries when she fell while walking, according to park manager Dan Bickel. He said she had broken bones and injuries to her lower extremities. The teen was conscious when flown to Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Bickel said the 17-year-old and her friend, a 16-year-old female, hiked to a waterfall located underneath Kildoo Bridge. The older teen fell off the rim of the waterfall and onto rocks.

“It’s very slippery there,” he said. “There’s no hiking trails in that area. People do go down there to look at the falls, but it’s a rugged, very rough area of the park.”

Her friend returned to the bridge and got the attention of motorcyclists. One of them, Spillane, went down the hill to aid the injured teen and he slipped and fell between 16 and 20 feet and landed on rocks, suffering fatal injuries, Bickel said.

Lawrence County 911 had alerted emergency crews at 6:49 p.m.

Lawrence County deputy coroner Samuel A. Teolis said an autopsy would be performed Saturday.

“We don’t suspect anything other than a bad accident,” he said. “It’s a tragedy.”

Five rescue teams removed the teen from the accident site, and a STAT MedEvac helicopter flew her from the scene at 8:22 p.m.

Bickel said the area is an undesignated area of the park.

“We don’t have signs on every waterfall or every area. Typically, areas that are higher danger we do have signage.”

Assisting Slippery Rock Township’s fire department were units from Shenango Township and Unionville and Portersville in Butler County. The state police are overseeing the investigation.