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First responders recount quarry rescue after jet ski incident in Foster Township


FOSTER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY — Eyewitness News is learning more about an accident Thursday night involving jet skis that led to a dramatic rescue.

The drama began to unfold just before 8 p.m. Thursday night. Luzerne County 911 received a call about a jet ski accident in an old coal mining area, quarry near the Eckley Miner’s Village. Early reports said as many as three people had to be rescued from this water.

Responders from the Freeland-White Haven area responded to the scene. It’s unclear exactly what was going on at this quarry, as it is located about a mile off the nearest roadway.

“My understanding is, and check with White Haven Police, it was a jet ski collision. We don’t know if two jet skis collided or two people on one jet ski hit rocks,” said Fire Chief Daniel Balliet. “We don’t know because a victim was on a rugged area, almost across the lake from the jet skis. They were across the water. Don’t know where it occurred on the water or how.”

A 14-year-old boy who was badly injured had to be lowered from a cliff by ropes to a boat, then removed from the scene, he was then flown to a trauma center in critical condition.

Another victim, a man believed to be in his 20s, was taken out by the White Haven Police truck to a waiting ambulance, where he was driven to a hospital.

Friday, an officer from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which led the investigation, and a White Haven police officer were at the quarry Friday, looking for evidence.

They were taking a close look an abandoned trailer as one of the tires from the trailer was missing. It’s unclear if it is connected to the incident.

There is no easy way to reach this quarry with the rocky terrain. Foster Township Fire Chief Daniel Balliet told the I-Team, first responders had to deal with another big issue, which hampered the rescue operation.

“The downside was communications; really poor, very limited cell service back there and the portable radios were sketchy. Communication was our biggest problem last night,” said Balliet

As of late Friday afternoon, the names of the victims and their conditions were not yet released by the state Fish and Boat Commission.

The search for answers is on after a jet ski accident led to the dramatic rescue of two people from a coal mining quarry in Luzerne County Thursday night.

The victims were badly injured, but the circumstances surrounding the accident are still unclear.

Luzerne County 911 received a call just before 8 p.m. about a jet ski accident at a coal mining pit and quarry. This is located near the Eckley Miner’s Village.

The initial report said that three people might need to be rescued from the water. Fire chiefs who responded say without a doubt training paid off Thursday night.

Dozens of first responders from throughout the Freeland-White Haven area converged on the quarry.

Two people had to be rescued from this remote area. A 14-year-old boy, who was critically injured in the accident, had to be lowered by ropes to a boat. He could not be removed by land.

He was then flown by helicopter to a trauma center. Another male, believed to be in his 20s, was taken out by a White Haven Police truck and driven by ambulance to a local hospital.

“In situations like that, it ended up being a multi-agency call for the resources needed. Obviously we needed vehicles that could come back here also equipment such as ropes,” Chief Balliet said.

Balliet helped coordinate the rescue operations, an effort that he says was made more efficient because of training.

“Just the agencies working together. We obviously train as much as we can together for situations like this. The big thing is the boat crew and their training. If we didn’t have that, we would have gone to Plan B,” Chief Balliet said.

An officer from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission was at the quarry Friday. He was led to the remote area by a White Haven police officer an area mile away from the nearest highway.

They were looking at a trailer that was missing a tire. It’s unclear if this trailer is connected to the jet ski accident and it’s unknown exactly how the account occurred. Investigators will only say two jet skis were involved.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission is now leading the investigation. An official with the agency tells Eyewitness News it is an intense investigation and they will get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

At this point in time, the names of the victims and their conditions have not been released.

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