RED WING, Minn. (WCCO) — After three deadly falls in four years, the city of Red Wing is considering more safety measures along a scenic trail.
An Iowa man, Frank Gritters, 81, fell to his death Tuesday afternoon on Barn Bluff. It was near a steep section of the trail that’s supposed to be off-limits to hikers, but many people still ignore the warning signs.READ MORE: 2 Tigers At Pittsburgh Zoo Test Positive For COVID-19
Gritters was hiking with his wife when he slid partway down the cliff, but came to rest against a hillside tree.
Cpt. Jim Eppen of the Red Wing Fire Department was among those who responded to what they hoped would be a rescue situation.
“There was a person on the side of the bluff, hanging onto a tree, uninjured,” Eppen said.
But then before they could even set up, Gritters lost his footing and fell the rest of the way down.
Eppen had to pause to compose himself while talking about the experience of watching a man die.
“I can deal with responding to trauma, but watching it happen is a whole different situation,” he said.
Barn Bluff is considered one of the jewels of Red Wing, drawing hikers of all ages to its natural beauty.READ MORE: Minnesota Budget Update Reflects $7.7 Billion Surplus
“The view from the top is just exceptional,” said Mark Mattoon, a hiker from Red Wing.
Dag Riseng was on his usual noontime hike on the bluff Wednesday with his dog.
“You get to look out on the Lake Pepin side,” Riseng said, “and the other side you can look out on the Red Wing side, it’s really nice.”
For the past couple of years, the city has had ‘keep out’ signs posted at the section where the trail gets narrow along a steep section of the bluff. But Red Wing fire chief Tom Schneider said many people continue to go beyond the signs and take the risks.
“The terrain is very slippery, it’s very narrow,” Schneider said. “It’s just not a good place to go.”
The chief said city leaders will hold a meeting next week to talk about what else can be done.
“Public education is going to be a part of it,” Schneider said. “The best advice we can give people is, you know, the signs are there for a reason.”
A 54-year-old man died in a fall while jogging on Barn Bluff in 2013.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Tuesday Morning Snow Showers Make For Tough Commute
Two years before that, a 75-year-old woman fell to her death from the trail section that is now closed.