Out on a limb, boy awaits rescue

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — Climbing up a tree is fun. It’s the getting-down part that’s hard, as one young resident has learned.

East Rockingham Fire Department rescued a 8-year-old Juelz Smith from a tree last Friday, after he had climbed 13 feet up.

Zac Sharpe, a volunteer with the ERFD who climbed the tree to nab the regretful explorer, said he couldn’t figure out how Juelz got that high because “there was a good five feet of bare tree from the trunk before the first limb.”

“That was our first question once he was on the ground safe,” Sharpe said. “He explained that he used a bench that he pushed up against the tree to help him get higher.”

Sharpe, who was a tree climber himself, said that “high-angle rescue” calls like this one were extremely rare but considered high risk because things could so easily go wrong.

“One single wrong move could be one you can’t recover from,” he said. “We were extremely fortunate on this rescue also because when we are called to a high-angle rescue, we are thinking ‘bad and time consuming.’”

Firefighters are trained to use a rope system to guide anyone stranded high up safely to the ground, but they completed this one by hand, with men waiting below should anything go wrong.

“Climbing trees when I was younger came in handy for once,” Sharpe said.

Zack Allen and John Sewell were Sharpe’s support on the ground as he climbed the tree.

“High-angle rescue calls are extremely team driven, and everyone must be on the same page to do a successful rescue,” Sharpe said.

He couldn’t say for sure how long Juelz was stuck but said the boy went right back to playing with his friends, who were standing by watching him be rescued.

“We got a chance to talk to him for a few, and the mother was on scene while it was taking place, and she was grateful for his safety,” Allen said.

Juelz’s mother, Yovaan Chantee, talked about the incident on the ERFD Facebook post.

“Thank y’all so much for rescuing my son!” she said.

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]