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Teen Survives 400-Foot Fall Where Others Have Perished

His 400-foot plummet near Washington state's High Steel Bridge left him scraped up but otherwise OK
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2024 9:14 AM CDT
Teen Falls 400 Feet From Canyon, Escapes With Just Scrapes
The High Steel Bridge in Washington, as seen from a drone.   (Getty Images/Clinton Ward)

A teen is lucky to be alive after plummeting 400 feet in a Washington state canyon. "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," Tim Ripp of the Mason County Sheriff's Office tells NBC News. Authorities say the unidentified young man fell while walking alone Saturday along an erstwhile trail underneath the High Steel Bridge, one of the nation's tallest railroad bridges.

NBC notes the teen's rescue took about two hours, with firefighters and deputies putting together a rope system to pull the young man out of his predicament. "Hooked him up into a harness and brought him all the way back up," Fire Chief Matthew Welander of West Mason Fire tells KING. The 19-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation, where he was found to have sustained just scrapes to his arms.

Ripp tells NBC that a handful of people fall off the bridge each year, and most die. Welander tells KING the teen had been walking on a "washout that a lot of people use, and has kind of become a trail." Rescuers say the terrain in that area is steeper than it looks, with Welander calling it "extremely dangerous." He adds that visitors to the area may not always see the warning signs scattered around the landscape, or often simply ignore them. "People come up here to just be stupid," he laments. "Remember, do NOT hike down next to the bridge," West Mason Fire warned in a Facebook post after the weekend's rescue. (More fall stories.)

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