A 48-year-old man was transported by emergency medical helicopter to a local hospital after he accidentally fell approximately 50 to 75 feet down a steep embankment along the Susquehanna River in Sheshequin Township early Tuesday.

A woman who was accompanying the man tried to come to his aid and also fell at least part-way down the embankment, said Steve Bixby, chief of the Ulster-Sheshequin Fire Association.

State police identified the man as Joseph Neely, 48, and the woman as Connie Neely, 43. State Trooper Michael Tribendis said that his understanding is that the Neelys are from Rome.

Joseph and Connie Neely were both listed in serious condition Tuesday night at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre.

Connie Neely may have broken both of her arms, Bixby said.

Near the top of the embankment is a rock cliff section, and below that is a dirt section, and the lowest section is another rock cliff, North Towanda Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Sheets said.

The man landed in a rocky area near the edge of the water, Bixby said.

The accident, which was reported at approximately 5:30 a.m., occurred along state Route 1043 approximately a half-mile north of the James Street Bridge.

After landing at the bottom of the embankment, Connie Neely somehow managed to travel 300 to 400 yards down river - whether by swimming or crawling or walking - to where some homes were, and yelled for help, according to Sheets and Bixby.

One of the residents in the homes investigated and "found her lying in the water," Sheets said.

Due to the steepness of the banks, emergency responders used rescue boats from the Towanda and North Towanda fire companies to transport the Neelys to an access point upriver on a private property, where they were transferred to ambulances. The access point is approximately a quarter-mile upriver from where the accident occurred.

The man and woman were walking along state Route 1043, Sheets said. The embankment begins close to the guard rail that runs along the edge of the road, Bixby said.

Sheets said he did not why they crossed over the guard rail and state police and fire officials said they did not know why Joseph Neely fell over the embankment.

Trooper Tribendis said Joseph Neely's fall was an accident.

A landing zone for the helicopter was set up in Larnard-Hornbrook County Park in Sheshequin Township.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com