Great job Rangeley Fire, Phillips and Farmington Fire, Northstar EMS, Franklin County Sheriffs and 911, Franklin County Technical Rescue team working for over 3 hours to save the life of a crash victim who went over the embankment 50 ft down into the gorge at small falls on Rt 4. One of the most difficult technical rescues I have ever seen and worked. All hands working to save a life, great job everyone!!

Posted by Tim Pellerin on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Frank Formisano, 58, of Rumford, the driver of the van owned by Lincare Inc. of Rumford, was injured when he swerved to avoid a deer, struck a guardrail and went airborne into the gorge. Lincare delivers oxygen and related equipment to those who need it.

Once firefighters arrived and assessed the situation, commanders began to work out a plan to get Formisano safely out of the van that was about 90 feet off the road and partly on a ledge about 50 feet down in the gorge in the Sandy River, Rangeley Chief Tim Pellerin said.

The van was in the first gorge, the first pool at the top of Smalls Falls, which is a waterfall with four pools. Rescuers knew they had to work slowly to make sure the van did not fall down to the second pool, he said.

They also knew they needed a lot more help than what they had, he said.

They called in Farmington Fire and Rescue and Franklin County Search and Rescue. Eustis Fire Department was also called to stand by at the Rangeley Fire Station. Franklin County dispatchers kept the communication flowing. Even the tow truck operators got involved in the rescue and removal of the van, Pellerin said.


About 40 people participated in the rescue, he said.

Rescuers created a bridge with a ground ladder to put rescuers on both sides of the river and set up ropes, harnesses and teams to hold the ropes. They had to cut trees and brush and lower equipment, including chain saws, lighting and extrication tools.

Rescuers rappelled down to the vehicle, Pellerin said.

The windshield was removed from van and the roof was cut and rolled back.

A harness was put on Formisano and he was lifted out of the van to medical personnel before he was taken up to a waiting ambulance.

It took about three hours to accomplish the mission.


Formisano was talking to rescuers the whole time, Pellerin said.

Those involved in the rescue worked as one team, regardless of the names and towns on their coats, he said. All of their training paid off, he said.

“This guy (Formisano) is lucky he is here for Christmas,” Pellerin said.

When Pellerin first saw the van, its condition and where it was, he didn’t know if that would be the case.

MORE COVERAGE: Rumford man injured when van lands in Sandy River

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