Fall from perch paralyzes hunter


By David DeCamp
County Line staff writer

A fall from a hunting perch in a wooded section of Clay County left a Jacksonville Beach man with critical injuries last weekend.

The hunter was not found for 27 hours after the fall.

Ed Dykes, who was hunting alone, was left paralyzed from the fall that occurred after 10 a.m. Thursday about 5 miles from Camp Blanding in Clay County, said county Fire and Rescue Capt. Dave Motes of the special operations division. The spot was about 600 yards from the nearest road, leaving Dykes, 53, on the ground in subfreezing temperatures overnight.

Dykes apparently was taking his coat off or changing position in a tree stand when he stepped on a tree limb, said his brother, Richard. The limb broke and Dykes fell. He was knocked unconscious for a short time.

Dykes' brother said the fall severed his spine. He was motionless -- he can't move the lower half of his body -- until another hunter found him Friday. The hunter alerted authorities.

The county's special operations squad -- which happened to be training nearby -- was able to rescue Dykes, with help from a Camp Blanding rescue crew, so he could be flown by helicopter to Shands Jacksonville.

"As unlucky as he was to have fallen and lay there all night long, he was very lucky everything was in place to rescue him," Motes said.

Motes said no one knew Dykes was hunting in the desolate woods that day. He said hunters should always go out with a partner, or at least have a cell phone.

"The moral to that story is you should never hunt alone," Richard Dykes said.

Staff writer David DeCamp can be reached at (904) 359-4699 or at ddecamp@jacksonville.com.