The Baltimore resident has been identified as Philip Carroll, and he was visiting the famous volcano with three family members on Saturday when the incident occurred.
Mount Vesuvius is notorious for erupting in 79 C.E. and destroying the Roman city of Pompeii, burying the city and its occupants in ash, which has remarkably preserved the ancient site to this day. Vesuvius is considered an active — yet idle — volcano and last erupted in 1944.
Paolo Cappelli, president of Presidio Permanente Vesuvio, a base for guides at the top of Mount Vesuvius, told NBC News that Carroll and his family hiked to the top of the volcano through a restricted trail.
“This family took another trail, closed to tourists, even (though) there was a small gate and ‘no access’ signs,” Cappelli said.
When the family summited the 1,280-metre-tall volcano, Carroll took out his phone to take a selfie and accidentally dropped it into the crater. He decided to go after it.
“He tried to recover it, but slipped and slid a few metres into the crater. He managed to stop his fall, but at that point he was stuck,” Cappelli said.
“He was very lucky. If he kept going, he would have plunged 300 meters into the crater,” he added.
Presidio Permanente Vesuvio guides spotted Carroll with binoculars from the other side of the crater’s rim and rushed to assist him, using a long rope to pull him to safety. Italian police and a mountain rescue helicopter also responded to assist in the rescue, according to The Guardian.
Miraculously, Carroll only suffered scratches, bruises and cuts to his arms and back due to the fall. CNN reported that he was treated at the scene and did not want to be taken to hospital, according to police.
There were reportedly two British tourists who were also spotted walking on the restricted trail.
NBC News found a video shared on Instagram on Sunday that appeared to be posted by Carroll’s brother. The footage shows views from the top of Mount Vesuvius and a voice can be heard saying, “we hiked to the top of a literal f—–g volcano!”
After being rescued, Carroll was taken into custody, Cappelli said.
So far, Carroll and his family have not been charged but local prosecutors are currently deciding whether to proceed with formal indictments against them for invasion of public territory.
Carroll has made no public comment about the incident.