Rescue workers spent three hours Wednesday night extricating a man from his van as the vehicle balanced on ledges at a waterfall near Rangeley in Franklin County.

Rangeley Fire Chief Tim Pellerin said his team and crews from surrounding communities used rope rescue techniques they have practiced in that very spot in recent years as they cut the roof from the vehicle and hoisted Frank Formisano to safety.

Formisano, 58 of Rumford, was treated and released from Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

He was driving a Lincare Inc. commercial van south on Route 4 in Township E when he swerved to avoid a deer and lost control on a curve at 5:30 p.m., Franklin County Sheriff Cpl. Matthew Brann said in a press release.

Formisano told Brann that the last thing he remembered was striking the guard rail. There were no skid marks on the road. The Ford E350 van left the road and went airborne before careening about 50 feet down the sheer bank of the Sandy River.

Pellerin estimated the van ended up 90 feet from the road and down the cliff. The van landed on its back end and was pointing straight up, balanced precariously on pieces of ledge above a pool formed by Smalls Falls, where local children go swimming, he said.

Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck and Jay Chief Richard Caton IV were on that road headed home from a meeting when they came upon the crash and radioed for help, Brann said.

It took firefighters about 18 minutes to assemble at the remote location, Pellerin said.

Firefighters couldn’t see Formisano, but called down to him and he answered.

“I did not think for one second this guy was alive,” Pellerin said. “It was as bad as it could be.”

Firefighters told Formisano to stay where he was.

The truck was teetering, in danger of tumbling farther down the falls.

“You could rock it with your hand,” Pellerin said.

Firefighters rappelled down to the van while a Fire Department bucket truck lowered an extrication tool to cut through the roof.

Dan Boivin of Sanders Auto helped secure the van in place so the rescuers could work around it safely. Boivin said he had to climb across the ravine to anchor some of the 2,200 feet of cable used in the operation because there was nowhere to anchor it on the sheer ledge the van had tumbled down.

Boivin said Formisano stayed put while rescuers worked around him. Finally, three hours after the crash, he was able to get out.

“He was exhausted,” Boivin said. “He come out on his own power but with a lot of help.” The wreckage of the vehicle was then pulled out of the ravine by a tow truck.

About 40 firefighters from the Phillips, Rangeley and Farmington fire departments and the Franklin County Technical Rescue Team responded to the incident.

“This is probably one of the most technical rescues I have ever done,” Pellerin said. “This was a great team effort by responders who had the right equipment.”