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Published: Monday, 5/21/2012

Boy, 13, rescued from waterfall ledge


SEATTLE — Swept down one waterfall and about to plunge over a much larger one, a 13-year-old boy managed to climb onto a foot-wide rock shelf in a gushing Washington state river — and then stayed there 8½ hours until rescuers saved him early Sunday, sheriff’s officials said.

The boy was hiking with his father and a friend of his father about 5 p.m. Saturday, when he began wading in the river above Wallace Falls, at a state park near Gold Bar.

It is 45 miles northeast of Seattle in the Cascade foothills.

The top of the falls is a steep, nearly 3-mile hike from the trail. The boy slipped on rocks, and the water carried him down a 10-foot waterfall.

Just before he would have fallen over the 270-foot main drop, he pulled himself out of the whitewater and onto a narrow, sloping shelf the water had carved in a rock wall.

With his back to the wall, he crouched and waited for help.

Rescuers first tried to reach him by helicopter, but the rock overhanging the shelf prevented them from dropping straight down.

Other rescuers hiked up the trail and arrived to find the boy standing on the rock, wet and hypothermic.

They threw him food and dry clothes and set up a rigging that would allow them to rescue him.

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