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Teen rescued after getting stuck dangling 700 feet above river on California’s tallest bridge


A teenager was rescued Monday night from beneath the catwalk of Foresthill Bridge — California's tallest — where he hung suspended from a rope he used while filming a stunt a gone awry, authorities said. 

The 19-year-old became stuck dangling from the underside of the bridge when his equipment failed and he was unable to pull himself back up and onto the catwalk. The teenager's rope was about 30 feet long, the Placer County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.

Towering 730 feet above the North Fork of the American River near Sacramento, the Foresthill Bridge is California's tallest, and one of the tallest in the United States. It sits between the city of Auburn and the town of Foresthill in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The suspended teenager's friend, who is 17, filmed the stunt, intending to capture the 19-year-old swinging from a rope above the river. The friend called 911 after determining the 19-year-old was stuck and needed help, according to the sheriff. 

Neither of them were injured in the incident, although Nolan Hale, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection battalion chief, told CBS Sacramento that the boy found dangling from the bridge "was pretty shaken up," even after his eventual rescue.

"He was in that harness for probably an hour and fifteen before we could get him up and off," Hale said. 

The rescue operation involved more than two dozen first responders, including members of specialized rescue teams from the sheriff's office and Cal Fire. Crews used a vertical rope to lower one rescuer down to where the 19-year-old was suspended and ultimately hoist him up and onto the catwalk. He did not have visible injuries and declined additional medical attention, but both the 19-year-old and his friend received citations for trespassing in the aftermath of the incident, authorities said.

A rescuer is lowered down about 30 feet to where the 19-year-old dangles from the underside of the Foresthill Bridge on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.PLACER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Hale told CBS Sacramento that stunts involving the Foresthill Bridge, like bungee-jumping and base-jumping, are illegal, noting that most incidents at the bridge are recovery operations.

"This is the first incident of a live rescue in the last 30 years," Hale said, adding, "Someone dangling 700 feet above the American River is a high-risk operation with vertical rope rescue."

Article Topic Follows: California News

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