A 16-year-old boy, who fell while climbing the King and Queen Seat in Rocks State Park in northern Harford County Monday afternoon, is expected to survive his injuries, according to officials with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He was airlifted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
"He's expected to be okay," Candy Thomson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police, said.
The rocky outcropping, which is popular with area hikers and climbers, is 190 feet high. The victim was free climbing while on a family outing and slipped and fell 12 to 15 feet, Thomson said.
The teenager struck his head, and "he was having trouble with consciousness and was vomiting," Thomson said.
Thomson said two nearby climbers saw him fall and tried to help him.
Volunteer firefighters, members of the county's Technical Rescue Team and Maryland Department of Natural Resources representatives responded to the scene around 3:40 p.m., Rich Gardiner, spokesperson for the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association, reported on the association's public information page.
Route 24 was closed in the area of the state park as rescuers worked to get the victim to a Medevac landing zone set up at the nearby Wilson's Picnic Area on St. Clair Bridge Road, according to Gardiner.
Gardiner said the rescue took about an hour, from when crews were dispatched to when the teen was removed. He said the members of the rescue team used "rope systems" to get to the victim and then get him to safety while secured in a "stokes basket."
Gardiner said it "takes quite a bit of work to establish a safe way in and out" for the crews.
Thomson said anyone considering free climbing should wear a helmet and know his or her climbing skill level.
"Clearly, accidents happen, but you can minimize accidents by knowing your skill level and accurately assessing the challenge you've taken on," she said.
Monday's incident was the second time rescue workers were called to the King and Queen Seat in the past week.
They responded last Wednesday when an unidentified person deliberately jumped from the cliff and died, according to police. No additional details of the incident have been made public.
Injuries from falls while climbing and rappelling at the King and Queen Seat happen at the rate of about one each summer, the Harford Fire and EMS Association noted in 2013.
In November 2014, a 25-year-old woman who was climbing at the King and Queen Seat was hospitalized following a fall that fire officials estimated at 20 feet.
A 12-year-old girl was seriously injured when she fell an estimated 40 to 50 feet from the west face of the King and Queen seat in May 2013, according to Fire and EMS Association. She survived.
Following the 2013 fall, a park official said that while they might consider future safety measures around the cliff, education about the dangers the area poses was still the most important means of preventing accidents.
Karis King, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said Tuesday that 173,781 people visited Rocks State Park during the 2015 fiscal year.