Sunday, September 24, 2017 Elyria 72°


Firefighters pluck teen from cliff in Brownhelm Township


BROWNHELM TWP. — Vincent Ragnoni tried to rescue his family’s dog in the Vermilion River Reservation around 2 p.m. Friday, but both he and his pet ended up needing help.

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to rescue the 17-year-old Ragnoni and the approximately 11-month-old mixed retriever, according to Florence Township Fire Chief Bill Rennie.

He said Ragnoni, whose family didn’t return calls Friday night, slipped on snow on the river bank while on the cliff behind the family home, which is near Lorain County Metro Parks’ Vermilion River Reservation. Shale cliffs along the river are a prominent feature of the reservation.

Ragnoni ended up on a ledge about 10 to 15 feet above the river. Using rigging, ropes and wearing harnesses, firefighter Sean Finnegan and Vermilion Township fire Lt. Matt Triana rappelled between 60 and 70 feet to reach the cold, but unhurt, Ragnoni, Rennie said. They placed a harness on Ragnoni, who ascended the cliff on his own.

“He was talking the whole time,” Rennie said. “He was just pretty cold.”

Ragnoni, who was wearing shorts, was hospitalized as a precautionary measure around 3:40 p.m. The uninjured dog was brought up in an empty rope bag.

About 25 firefighters responded to the incident, including members of the Vermilion Fire Department. Rennie said the cliff rescue was the second this year for his department, which helped two teenagers ascend about 80 feet off a cliff in the spring.

Rennie said his department practices cliff rescues at least once a year.

“It’s paid off this year,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

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