A 'traumatizing' day at Grimes Glen
What was to be a fun day in Naples on June 19, cooling off in Grimes Glen, turned tragic for the Wilson family. Erika and Tyrick Wilson, who live in Rochester, took their three sons to the glen where there’s a natural swimming pool at the base of waterfalls. That’s where they were when a rock struck their youngest son, Quincy, in the head.
Nobody knew what happened at first. “It was so fast, so sudden,” said Polly Halladay, a registered nurse who was near the falls with her daughters and grandchildren when the rock hit Quincy. Halladay remembered hearing a loud crack, then a huge splash — “like something falling out of the sky,” she said. She saw the little boy, who was wearing a lifejacket, floating motionless face down in the water. She rushed to help. The boy’s mom called 911. His dad carried him out to the entrance of the glen. Quincy was airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital.
His grandmother, Flora Focarino, said Thursday Quincy suffered a severe head injury and is being treated for multiple skull fractures.
“It is very, very slow progress,” she said.
On Wednesday, Quincy was moved from the intensive care unit to the inpatient pediatric rehabilitation facility at Unity Hospital. A Facebook page “Support for Quincy” provides updates and how to donate to help the Wilson family pay for medical costs not covered by insurance.
It wasn't long after Quincy was struck in the head that rocks fell again, just as Halladay’s daughter, Kate Halladay Hawks, was beginning to move out of the glen with the rest of the family.
“It was one of the most traumatizing days of my life — to witness and be part of,” said Hawks. As they moved to leave the area, her 4-year-old daughter was hit in the head by a rock from above — from a blow not nearly as hard as what hit Quincy, but she did need stitches.
Warning signs went up at the entrance of the glen after the accident. Bill Wright, Ontario County commissioner of public works, said the signs are to help prevent further injury.
Wright said that every year, there are usually a few cases where people fall in the glen or sustain an injury while hiking through the gorge. As far as he knows, this was the first time anyone has been injured because of a natural event there.
Wright said erosion and geological changes over time can cause falling rocks, trees and other debris.
“There is risk in any adventure and in the glen,” he said.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust bought the 32-acre Grimes Glen in 2008 and transferred ownership to Ontario County to maintain as a public park. The land trust retains a conservation easement to preserve it as a natural resource. The county maintains the glen as a “passive” park. Wright said this means promoting the property as a natural resource while providing restrooms, a parking lot and certain amenities such as picnic tables and a bridge near the entrance.
Grimes Glen is a popular regional attraction with two 60-foot waterfalls; the second falls has a plunge pool at the bottom and sheer shale bluffs towering 200 feet above the creek bed. That pool below the second falls is where the rocks gave way that hit Quincy and the other 4-year-old.
“We don’t patrol the glen,” said Wright. The county periodically checks on conditions. That includes removing a climbing rope, which Wright said people keep putting back again — and they should not. The county’s new signs include one that says “No climbing on rock walls and slopes” and another that says, “Watch for falling debris.”