Boy Rescued From Edge Of 270ft Waterfall

A teenager has been rescued in a dramatic operation after clinging for hours to a rock shelf to stop himself being swept over a 270ft waterfall.

William Hickman had gone into the water for a quick dip to cool off but whitewater rapids swept him over a smaller 10ft waterfall just ahead of the main falls northeast of Seattle in the US.

The 13-year-old said he just focused on keeping his feet pointed downstream, like a character in a book from the Pendragon series he remembered reading. Rescuers believe the action may have helped save his life.

The current pushed him toward a narrow rock shelf just above Wallace Falls and he was able to scramble out to wait for rescuers.

He stayed there, cold and wet, for the next eight and a half hours as his father shouted encouragement to him, telling him he would be OK. Crews later tossed him blankets, energy bars and fruit snacks.

"I wasn't really scared until after I got on top of the rock," the boy said. "I was shocked that I landed there, that I was not going to go down and die," said William.

Officials have released a video of the overnight operation shot by a volunteer rescuer.

It shows the youngster huddled on a narrow, sloping rock shelf with his back to the water.

One roped-up rescuer cautiously makes his way to the boy using an aluminium ladder as a foothold, and then guides him up a rock wall to safety.

Rescuers first tried to reach him by helicopter, but the rock overhanging the shelf prevented them from dropping straight down. Instead, a helicopter crew dropped two rescuers 200 metres below him.

The rescuers climbed above the rock overhang, and then worked as a team - one rappelling down, the other belaying.

As one rescuer rappelled down, he tried to swing under the overhang but his rope, rubbing against the rock, snapped and he plunged into the whitewater.

Only his secondary rope saved him from going over the big falls, and he made it to shore with minor injuries.

Other rescuers hiked up a trail, arriving to find the boy standing on the rock, wet and hypothermic. They set up a rigging that would allow them to rescue him, including a 24ft aluminium ladder placed horizontally across the river and secured with several ropes.

Ten rescuers camped with him overnight, and a sheriff's office helicopter flew them down off the mountain at 6am on Sunday.

There was no place for the helicopter to land to pick them up, so the boy and the rescuers were carried on a platform hanging from a cable 80ft below the helicopter.

Meanwhile, a man has survived after plunging over Niagara Falls in an apparent suicide attempt.

He is only the third person known to have lived after going over the falls without a safety device.

Niagara Parks Police said witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing up to 30ft out over the Horseshoe Falls just before 10.30am local time and then "deliberately jump" into the Niagara River.

Seriously injured after falling at least 180ft, he surfaced in the lower section of the river basin near the Journey Behind The Falls observation platform and managed to make it to shore on his own.

"He waded ashore," said platoon chief Dan Orescanin of the Niagara Falls fire department.

"He must have gotten swept into an eddy, floated over there and was able to get out on his own.

"That's another stroke of luck," said Mr Orescanin. "If he was in the main current, he would have been swept down river."

The fire chief said the man was conscious and talking at first but became quiet. He appeared to have chest injuries, including broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Mr Orescanin said.

The man was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital where a spokeswoman said he was critically injured but expected to survive.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes