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Brothers survive fall from New River Gorge cliff

Charleston Daily Mail photo by Marcus Constantino  From left, J.B. Browning, 19, and his brother, Jude, 13, of Fayetteville, are photographed Wednesday at the Long Point Trail trailhead in Fayetteville. The Browning brothers are recovering after they fell off a cliff at the end of the trail Sunday. Both suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Marcus Constantino
From left, J.B. Browning, 19, and his brother, Jude, 13, of Fayetteville, are photographed Wednesday at the Long Point Trail trailhead in Fayetteville. The Browning brothers are recovering after they fell off a cliff at the end of the trail Sunday. Both suffered non-life threatening injuries.

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Two Fayetteville teenagers say they’re lucky to be alive after falling off a rock ledge at the end of Long Point Trail in the New River Gorge over the weekend.

J.B. Browning, 19, and his 13-year-old brother, Jude, suffered non-life threatening injuries when they tumbled off rock ledges at the end of the popular hiking trail Sunday evening. Jude was hoisted up the cliff in a basket and taken to the trailhead where he was airlifted to Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital with abrasions and bruised heels. J.B. walked away from the incident but suffered broken ribs and a possible punctured lung.

J.B. and Jude were able to walk to the Long Point Trail trailhead Wednesday ­— J.B. on his own power, Jude with the help of a walker. But they both know it could have been — and probably should have been — much worse.

“All the doctors and nurses, everybody was all in shock that we didn’t have major injuries or that we were even there,” J.B. said. “It was God. There was nothing else that could have helped us there. We both could have been severely injured or even died. We’re both lucky to be alive right now.”

Sunday started out like many other weekend days for J.B. and Jude. Their home is near Fayetteville Park, so they often walk to the four-mile-long Fayetteville Trail and explore the other trails it connects to — including their favorite, the Long Point Trail. The brothers walked out to the rocky end of the trail Sunday evening to enjoy some snacks with the panoramic view of the New River Gorge when Jude got curious and leaned over a rock ledge to take a look at a landing about 25 feet below.

“Jude was looking over the edge and he slipped off, and I went to grab him and I missed him,” J.B. said. “I made sure he was OK and then I went back up the trail to find a way to get down to him. I thought a found a good spot but it wasn’t so good. It was quicker but not so safe, and I ended up falling, too.”

J.B. said he fell even further down the mountain than Jude after a tree branch he’d been holding on to for support broke. J.B. was knocked out. Jude lost his cell phone when he fell…

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