13-year-old girl trapped while rock climbing is freed by rescuer and liquid soap

Dish soap proved to be key in helping to loosen her knee that had been trapped.

August 6, 2018, 7:58 AM

A 13-year-old Minnesota girl who fell down a crevice while rock climbing thanked her rescuer for the first time now that her feet are safely on the ground.

Scarlett Erickson was rock climbing as part of her summer camp at Robinson Quarry in Sandstone, Minnesota, on Wednesday when her excursion got a little too rocky.

"I was climbing up, and there was a big rock that I had to get over [in order] to get to the top," she told ABC News. "I gave myself a big boost, but my knee got stuck in one of the cracks. The crack was a V shape, so I fell down into it."

Erickson was more than 45 feet off the ground with her knee trapped between two large rocks when technical teams from across the region were called to help.

Clinton Langerud, a specialty rescue expert from the Isanti Fire District rescue squad, was the first to make direct contact with Erickson.

"The only thing visible to me, in the beginning, was the top of her thigh and of course just her foot, and it was pointed down," Langerud recalled.

The Isanti Fire and St. Louis County rescue teams worked with the Sandstone Fire Department for over four and a half hours to rescue Erickson.

They tried using different tools, from a hydraulic extraction tool known as the Jaws of Life to a hammer which they used to chisel away at the rock.

But eventually, a simple and surprising household item proved to be pivotal in getting her loose, Dawn dish soap.

"The leg was just so stuck that we couldn't get it to move around so having the soap inside of there - the Dawn dish soap - made that move around a lot more easily," Langerud said.

Erickson said she was "so happy" when she was out because she knew that she "was going to be safe."

After only one hour in the hospital, Erickson was released.

She and Langerud reunited on Sunday in a much different setting than their first meeting when Erickson was clinging on for dear life.

"I can't believe that your knee's OK," he said upon seeing her again.

Although it was only her first time rock climbing outdoors, she said she is already looking forward to her next trip and won't let this experience stop her from reaching the top next time.

Langerud told ABC News he thinks proper footwear could have helped with keeping a good grip and although tennis shoes are a starter shoe common among beginner climbers, he advises anyone who is interested in starting to rock climb to invest in a good pair of climbing shoes.