NBC News reports the 23-year-old Baltimore man, identified as Philip Carroll, was visiting the volcano, which is located near Naples and is infamous for an eruption in A.D. 79 that destroyed the Roman city of Pompei, with two family members this past Sunday.
Officials say Carroll had hiked a forbidden path en route to the near-fatal fall.
“This family took another trail, closed to tourists, even if there was a small gate and ‘no access’ signs,” Paolo Cappelli, president of the Presidio Permanente Vesuvio, told NBC News.
While at the top of the 4,203 feet volcano, Carroll stopped to take a selfie when he lost grip of his phone and dropped it into the crater. He then tried to retrieve it, before falling several meters into the crater. He was eventually saved by nearby park officials who saw the incident with binoculars.
“He tried to recover it, but slipped and slid a few meters 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.”
Fortunately, Carroll suffered only minor injuries, sustaining a few bruises on his hands, arms and back.
Cappelli said local police took Carroll into custody following the incident, however it’s unclear what charges, if any, he faces.
Mount Vesuvius last erupted in March of 1944.