CUYAHOGA FALLS — When Blake Osborn, 31, of Stow, woke up Labor Day morning he did not feel like a hero.
However that changed in a few hours as Blake not only earned the name, but was credited with helping save the life of a fellow outdoors lover and co-worker he had never met.
"I've never thought of myself as a hero," said Blake, a Kent State University adventure center program officer. "Glad I was there to help, but I don't feel like a hero or anything special. I feel like just a normal guy helping out someone that was hurt."
And while Blake may not feel like a hero, there is no way anyone could convince Rebecca Hamilton he's not.
Anthony Hamilton, a professor in the KSU culinary program, is very involved with the Cleveland culinary scene and consults with a variety of organizations. The couple have four children Anya, 17, Katarina, 14, who both attend Cuyahoga Falls High School. They also have Isabella, 7, a second grader at Stow’s Indian Trail, and Nico, 21 months.
According to Rebecca, Anthony left home about 1:30 p.m. Labor Day for a run in the Gorge Metro Park. Somehow he fell 50 to 100 feet from a cliff and landed on a rock below.
Anthony, 37, remained in the hospital at press time and expected to be released Sept. 16.
However Anthony said Sept. 13 he does not remember the fall or anything about that day, and he's thankful for that, he said.
"I'm don't know if I want to remember that. It's like what I went throughout and what I'm recovering from is all pretty tragic," Anthony said. "I have no real anxiety from it now, but I guarantee if it ran through my head it would give me nightmares."
Anthony said he is out two or three times a week on the Gorge Metro Park trails running.
"As many times as I've run them, I cannot tell you were I was at when I fell," he said. "And looking at the pictures, I've never seen it from down there, but it looked pretty treacherous and there was no way down."
Anthony said he does remember he was on the Glen Trail because the Gorge Trail was so busy.
He does recall tripping while running a week before the fall.
"I tripped on a root and fell flat on my face on the Gorge Trail," Anthony said. "But I didn't fall to the side and I didn't realize how dangerous that could be."
At the hospital Rebecca found out just how bad Anthony was hurt. Anthony suffered a left leg fracture, left arm fracture, a concussion, 15 stitches in his head where his skull was exposed, a gash on his right leg and a broken pelvis. It could be up to six months before Anthony can put weight on his injured leg, Rebecca said.
Blake and Miranda
While Anthony could not remember what happened, Rebecca heard there was a bystander who found her husband, rendered first aid and stayed until rescuers arrived. She searched local Facebook sites and talked to people until she found him — it was Blake.
Blake and his wife, Miranda, were hiking in the Glens Trail section of the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls in the Front Street section behind the American Legion. The couple decided to venture off the main trail a bit when they made a disturbing and potentially life-saving discovery.
Blake said he does not recommend leaving the main trails and called their choice a poor decision, but he's thankful they made it.
"Although it was the only reason we happened to see him after he fell, and thankfully we did not fall as well, it was not a wise choice," Blake reasoned. "That was a bad call on my part to venture off the main trail. It could have just as easily been me or my wife who fell."
However it was the poor choice that may have saved Anthony's life.
Blake and Miranda had decided to head back to the main trail. The couple took a break to look at the river below — that's when they saw Anthony.
"From the main trail you really couldn't really see him — he might not have been found," Blake said. "We saw someone down there and I thought, ‘Oh that’s cool. I want to find my way down there were he is."
But what Blake eventually saw was not so cool.
At the time, Anthony, who had somehow fallen about 40 or so feet, was sitting up and looking pretty normal, according to Blake.
"Something in me thought something was a little off," Blake remembered. "I saw something kind of red next to him on the rock — it turned out to be blood."
Blake decided to yell down to Anthony, who was about 100 feet down, asking him if he was OK.
At first Anthony, who Blake speculates was going into shock, said he was OK. Blake asked Anthony if he was hurt. Anthony answered yes. Blake then asked Anthony if he needed help — there was no response.
"At that point I looked at my wife and said ‘Something is off. I’m going down there,’" Blake said. "At the very least I thought he had broken his ankle because his shoe was off."
There was not a trail leading down to Anthony, so Blake made his way down the wall's face as best he could without ropes or support.
"I could immediately see he had a broken leg and broke wrist and he had a big gash in his head. I saw his skull," Blake said. "At that point I took off my shirt and used it as a bandage to cover up that wound. Then I held his head in place so if he did have a neck or head injury."
Anthony was in shock and not really aware of what was going on, according to Blake. Blake began asking Anthony a series of questions, but the only thing the jogger could remember was his first name.
Blake stayed with Anthony until firefighters and rescue personnel from the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department arrived.
Friends helping friends
The fall isn’t Anthony and Rebecca’s first brush with death.
Rebecca has been fighting a fatal disease, pulmonary hypertension, for 21 months, since the birth of their son, Nico. The disease has no cure. Rebecca must carry a pump with her all the time which injects life saving medications into a permanent port in her chest.
Insurance covers some costs, but with the added expense from Anthony’s fall and the almost $30,000 monthly bill for medicine, friends have set up a fundraising page to help with Anthony’s expenses.
The page is at goo.gl/G3hLV7.
An added plus from the experience was that the two men found out they both work for KSU.
Blake, who is a Christian, believes he may have had some help finding his now friend on Labor Day.
"We weren't planning on being on that trail," Blake said. "And I think its a miracle in itself that he survived that fall."
A few days later Blake and Miranda visited Anthony in the hospital.
Anthony has promised his new friend dinner when he is able to cook again.
"That dinner is coming," Anthony said. "You just have to wait for my left hand to get better so I can do a little bit more slice and dice — but it will be well worth the wait."