Dramatic Ropes Rescue After VT Woman Slips Down Embankment

Colchester Technical Rescue used ropes and pulleys to hoist the patient to safety

A dramatic Christmas Day rescue unfolded after a Vermont woman slipped down a steep embankment and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

Nicole Stowell of Colchester was very cold, but safe, after rescue personnel lifted her out of a ravine. 

First responders said Stowell, who is in her late 20s, reported she slipped, then slid and rolled down a steep embankment, estimated to have been a 150 or 200 foot-long tumble. 

She ended up near the edge of the frigid Winooski River, with left leg injuries, including an ankle injury, said Dave Auriemma of Colchester Technical Rescue. 

Stowell was transported to the hospital but is expected to make a full recovery. 

“It’s been the worst Christmas I’ve probably ever had,” said Travis Carl, Stowell’s husband. 

Carl said before his wife fell, she had been out searching for their English Mastiff, Thor, who’s been missing since Saturday night, when he ran away from a car that hit him on Route 15 near St. Michael’s College. 

“I miss my dog, but as long as my wife’s okay, that’s all I really care about,” Carl said. 

To get Stowell out of that precarious spot, Colchester Technical Rescue, St. Mike’s Rescue, and the Colchester Center Fire Department set up ropes and a pulley system. The team gradually hoisted the patient, who had been placed in a large basket, closer and closer to the top of that severe hillside.

“There was no way she was going to walk out of there,” Auriemma said, describing both Stowell’s injury and the icy and snow-covered embankment.

The delicate work of rescues from dangerous conditions is the specialty of Colchester Technical Rescue.

“Whether it be Christmas, Easter, or just a typical Monday, the job’s still got to get done—and that’s what we’re here for,” said Auriemma, a technical rescue squad member who is also a firefighter EMT with the Williston Fire Department.

Scene commanders said the unsung heroes in cases like this are the family members who were willing to say goodbye to police, fire, and rescue personnel on Christmas morning, knowing how important it is that they serve their communities every day of the year.

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