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Hamburg boy, 15, killed in fall into ravine near Eternal Flame Trail at Chestnut Ridge Park

A 15-year-old Town of Hamburg boy died of severe head injuries when he fell into the rocky ravine off the Eternal Flame Trail while hiking with family and friends at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park at about 6 p.m. Thursday.

The boy’s name was being withheld pending notification of family members.

Scott E. Zylka, spokesman for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, said the teenager became separated from the group and apparently stepped off the trail, lost his footing and fell into the ravine, where he was found facedown.

One of his hiking companions called 911 and, at about 6:10 p.m., Erie County sheriff’s deputies and two nurses who also were hiking the trail began administering CPR. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim was the second hiker to fall at the Eternal Flame Trail on Thursday. At about 2:45 p.m., a male attempting to swing from a rope to impress friends fell into the ravine. He was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.

After three hiker accidents on the trail in the last month, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard added mounted patrols to the area around the Eternal Flame, which is near a small waterfall in the park.

Although picturesque, the half-mile trail is considered somewhat difficult to hike because of its steep inclines and a danger due to its close proximity to the ravine. The trail, however, has become popular with hikers of all levels of experience.

The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry recently installed signs warning hikers to remain on the trail. The signs also warn hikers about the ravine and that climbing is prohibited.

Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel J. Neaverth Jr., who is chief of Orchard Park’s Hillcrest Volunteer Fire Company, was at the scene Thursday evening, along with emergency medical technicians. The fatal fall remains under investigation, Zylka said.