NEW LEXINGTON — Douglas Gross, 61, from Franklin County, was involved in an ATV accident on Sept. 3 while riding through the trails of the Perry State Forest. First responders were able to locate and assist him out of the forest after trying to locate him for at least two hours.

The New Lexington Fire Department received a call at 3:10 p.m. last Tuesday (Sept. 3) and the call involved an accident with injuries, according to New lexington Fire Chief Jim Fain. ODNR also received the call at 3:30 p.m. and responded to the call.

“He indicated that he wasn’t familiar with the area,” Fain told The Perry County Tribune. “He was looking for a family-friendly trail.”

Fain was in Columbus when the call came in. His department was still searching for the injured individual when Fain arrived in the area.

“It was a long and lengthy search for the gentleman,” Fain said.

First responders were able to locate Gross after nearly two hours of searching for his location. The male was found in a ravine adjacent to one of the harder trails in the area. The ATV that the male was driving had flipped on top of him as he was attempting to drive up a hill. The accident caused serious injury to his chest area as well as his neck and back.

“He was pretty much immobile and trying to guide us in the best he could with what he knew,” Fain stated. “Though it took quite a while to find him.”

There were several other departments who assisted in locating the injured male including fire departments in Somerset, Junction City, Crooksville and Roseville.

Due to his injuries, first responders could not lay him down on his back because it was difficult for him to breathe. Instead of carrying the male out of the forest, first responders had to walk him out partially and then drive out of the forest via ATV.

“Once we were able to secure an ATV that was clinically able to get him out of there, it was a hairy ride,” Fain stated. “It was a challenge to get him out.”

Once out of the forest, MedFlight was on scene and assessed the male’s injuries. He was flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus.

This is the second accident in Perry State Forest that the New Lexington Fire Department has answered this year, according to Fain. Both instances have involved severe injuries from riding on the trails. With its wide array of trails, it’s sometimes difficult for first responders to address calls in that area.

“Our biggest problem is that cell phone service is very spotty,” Fain stated. “He was very lucky that he had cell phone service — if he didn’t — who knows when it would’ve been reported that he was gone.”

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