'Incredibly lucky' teenager suffers minor injuries after 400ft canyon fall

By John Mercury May 29, 2024

An “incredibly lucky” teenager has suffered only minor injuries after falling around 400ft (122m) down the side of a canyon, officials in the US have said.

The unidentified man, who is reported to be 19, slipped while hiking beneath the High Steel Bridge in Washington State, one of the tallest railroad bridges in the US, on Saturday, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters mounted a two-hour rescue mission using a rope and harness to scale the bridge and rescue the man who had fallen to the river below, the office said.

Mason County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
Image:
Pic: Facebook/Mason County Sheriff’s Office

Incredibly, he sustained only scrapes to both of his arms and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

West Mason Fire chief Matthew Welander told Seattle-based news outlet, KING 5, an affiliate of NBC News, Sky’s US partner, the team “hooked him up into a harness” and brought him all the way back up.

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“He was walking down a washout that a lot of people use and has kind of become a trail” and ended up at the river below, he said, adding the man had been “incredibly lucky”.

Sheriff’s patrol corporal Tim Ripp, who helped rescue him, said: “We’ve told people to stay off these trails because they’re dangerous, but people either haven’t seen the warning signs or are disregarding it.”

Mason County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
Image:
Pic: Facebook/Mason County Sheriff’s Office

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Corporal Ripp said five to seven people fall off the bridge every year, and the majority die, despite warning signs, including one describing how steep, slippery and unsafe the bridge is.

A lack of respect for nature and not paying attention are part of the problem as people continue falling from the bridge, authorities have said.

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