A 23-year-old tourist from Maryland survived a fall into the Mount Vesuvius crater in Campania, Italy, on Saturday.
The incident occurred after Philip Carroll and two of his relatives wandered off-trail for a chance to take better photos.
Paolo Cappelli, president of the Presidio Permanente Vesuvio base on the summit of the 4,000-foot volcano,they forged ahead despite warnings.
“This family took another trail, closed to tourists, even if there was a small gate and ‘no access’ signs,” said Cappelli.
On top of neglecting to follow guidelines and scale the volcano with proper safety precautions, Carroll and his relatives didn’t even pay for tickets, which are required to limit the number of hikers on the trail. They took a prohibited path after departing the nearby town of Ottaviano. When they got to the top, Carroll tried taking a selfie — and dropped his phone into the crater.
“He tried to recover it, but slipped and slid a few meters into the crater,” said Cappelli. “He managed to stop his fall, but at that point, he was stuck. He was very lucky. If he kept going, he would have plunged 300 meters into the crater.”
Mount Vesuvius famously erupted in 79 A.D. and left the nearby city of Pompeii covered in 23 feet of ash and debris,. While the volcano is still active and the last eruption occurred in 1944, it’s currently in repose and unlikely to erupt anytime soon.
Mount Vesuvius is nonetheless still considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes due to its physical proximity to major towns like Naples,. A popular tourist destination, the crater is nearly 1,000 feet deep and 1,500 feet wide.
Carroll was rescued by local guides who rappelled into the crater and pulled him to safety with a rope. He suffered minor injuries including cuts and bruises on his arms and back.
The legal ramifications, however, might prove more detrimental. Carroll and his relatives now face criminal charges for invading public land.