Zanesville man dies after falling from tree

LICKING COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — A Memorial Day accident killed a man from Zanesville.

Craig Bartley, 27, died after falling from a tree at Blackhand Gorge, a State Nature Preserve in Licking County.

Bartley lived in Kentucky, but grew up in Zanesville. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said he had climbed a tree Monday when he slipped and fell into the gorge. Friends said it’s a place he had visited many times before.

Bartley loved the woods, climbing trees and music according to childhood friend Chaz McClure.

“Just knowing Craig, and you know he was always climbing trees and just looking for the next adventure, and doing some crazy stuff,” said McClure.

McClure said Bartley was an outdoorsman who knew Blackhand Gorge well; they had been coming there for years.

“Just hang out, play music, enjoy nature and just have a good time,” said McClure.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Bartley died around 8:30 Monday night after climbing onto a tree on the train trestle and falling into the gorge.

McClure calls it bad luck.

“It was just a freak accident. It was a terrible unexpected tragedy for sure,” said McClure. “it’s a little too surreal at this point.”

Blackhand Gorge is a dedicated State Nature Preserve so all visitors are required to stay on the trails. It’s unclear if Bartley was on or off the trail when the accident happened.

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