Son Explains Father’s Fatal Fall at Ledges State Park

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BOONE, Iowa -- "There was a second there where I didn`t really know what was happening," said 18 year-old Ben Carlile. "It was a moment of disbelief and then I knew that he had gone over," said Carlile. Ben says he and his father, the now late 63 year-old Dan Carlile of Ames, had been to Ledges State Park before, but had never walked the Lost Lake Trail.

The two were originally part of a group of about 100 people taking part in the annual first day hike at Ledges State Park on on Sunday, January 1, but Ben and his father left the group and went their own way. "He just said let`s go up here, and I said okay, we`ll go up there and so we went up and there`s, you know, that rock," said Ben. The overlook that Dan fell off of is known as Solstice Rock, and is about 50 yards off the trail and about 60 feet above the Des Moines River.

"He just wanted to take a picture," said Ben. "It was a nice place to take a view of the river...and it was pretty iced," said Ben. Ben says his father was getting into position to take a photo when the accident happened. "He stepped down onto a second rock, a shorter one that was off to the side and lost his footing and he went over," said Ben.

DNR officials are aware of the possible dangers posed by the overlook, but say park visitors are free to go where they choose. "That trail doesn`t have any crushed rocks surfaced on it, there's no railings put on it, so it is an area that we don`t want people to access routinely," said Ledges State Park Manager Andy Bartlett. "...We don`t kick people out, off trail locations, but we encourage them to experience the park on the trails that we provide," said Bartlett. Bartlett says at this point, no decisions have been made on implementing any safety restrictions to the trail.

And despite his father's death, Ben says he doesn't think there should be any changes made. "You know my immediate reaction was yeah this place ought to be fenced off," said Ben, before adding, "I really don`t think that that`s fair. I think that people are by and large responsible enough to take care of themselves," he continued. "I know that when my mom and my brother and I went out there after it happened...we went back out there to Solstice Rock because I wanted to explain to them and they wanted to know what happened, there was a woman sitting out there taking a picture where my dad was gonna be taking the picture and I`m sure that she had absolutely no idea what had happened," said Ben. "I think that people need to be left to their own devices, now that being said I absolutely think that people should be cautious because an accident like this is traumatic to say the least, especially for people closest to the person, especially if it’s a fatality," said Ben.

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