13-Year-Old Rescued From 270-foot Waterfall

By Melissa Morrissette

May 21, 2012 9:16pm

A 13-year-old Burien, Wash., boy huddled desperately on a rock ledge for nearly nine hours before rescuers were  finally able to save him from falling 270 feet down a waterfall.

The boy, his father and another person were hiking Saturday afternoon at Wallace Falls State Park, near Seattle, Wash., when he decided to wade in the river, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department officials said. The boy then lost his footing and was carried away and down a 10-foot waterfall into a narrow pool that leads to Wallace Falls, which plunge 270 feet.

The boy was able to get himself to the relative safety of a narrow, sloping ledge and avoid going over the larger falls, but when rescuers came, they were unable to reach him by helicopter, because of a rock outcropping over the ledge. Instead, two rescuers were lowered from the helicopter to a point below the ledge, and then climbed up the cliff face to where they could get him a coat and blanket to keep him warm as the effort to get him to safety went on into the night.

One of the rescuers was dangling from a rope and trying to swing under the overhang onto the ledge with the boy when the rope was cut by a jutting rock on the cliff.   Fortunately his secondary kept him from plunging into the gushing river below.

In video released today of the heroic rescue, another worker can be seen walking across a ladder bridge tethered to each side of the surging river to get to the boy. Once the rescuer is able to get the boy fitted with a harness, the two began to climb the rocks together to where a helicopter would be able to pick them up.

They both were then lifted to safety by the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team early Sunday morning.

“He was on that one rock for all those hours,” Snohomish County Sheriff’s Lt. Suzy Johnson said Sunday afternoon, according to ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. “He’s a pretty lucky kid.”

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