Firefighter dies after jumping fence in Mississippi

May 28, 2021 GMT

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A wildland firefighter fell to his death after jumping a fence in Natchez and landing 100 feet below.

Natchez Police Department Cmdr. Scott Frye said Evan Batson, 34, worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a traveling fireman. He was with co-workers when the incident occurred Wednesday night near the Bridge of Sighs on the Natchez Bluff, news outlets reported.

Lawrence Lujan, a spokesman for the USDA Forest Service, said in an emailed statement that the agency was saddened to confirm Batson’s death.

He said Batson was assigned to San Juan National Forest’s Columbine Fire Module and was in Mississippi helping with prescribed fire activities.

“His death occurred outside of work hours and is still under investigation. Evan worked on the Payette, Medicine Bow-Routt, Manti La Sal, and San Juan National Forests as a career wildland firefighter during his tenure. We share this profound loss with Evan’s family, friends, and crew members and hold them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Lujan said.

Batson and his co-workers had gone to dinner and, afterward, were walking to a nearby casino, authorities said. That’s when Batson decided to take a shortcut from the top of the bluff to a grassy area below by jumping a fence, but he jumped too far. Frye said the drop was about 100 feet down.

Batson’s co-workers, who are trained emergency medical technicians, managed to get to him and began giving him first-aid before calling 911. Natchez firefighters also arrived to help.

“There was no motor vehicle access where he was,” Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said. “All the while, they were trying to stop his bleeding.”

Batson, who was from Colorado, was later pronounced dead. A hometown was not immediately available.