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Teenager survives 400-foot fall from Wash. State canyon

Authorities rescued a teenager who fell 400 feet down a canyon on Saturday in Washington State. Photo courtesy of Mason County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
1 of 3 | Authorities rescued a teenager who fell 400 feet down a canyon on Saturday in Washington State. Photo courtesy of Mason County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

May 28 (UPI) -- A teenager suffered only minor injuries after falling some 400 feet down the side of a canyon in Washington State over memorial Day weekend, authorities said.

West Mason Fire Chief Matthew Welander told King5 that the unidentified 19-year-old was attempting to hike beneath the High Steel Bridge when he fell Saturday.

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Welander said a rescue team was deployed and a harnessed firefighter was needed to repel off the side of the bridge to reach the teenager.

"Hooked him up into a harness and brought him all the way back up," he said.

According to the Washington Trails Association, at 365 feet high, the High Steel Bridge is the tallest railroad bridge ever built in the United States.

The Mason County Sheriff's Office confirmed the rescue in a statement published to its Facebook page along with photos of the operation.

"Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our Special Operations Rescue Team, he was rescued and sustained only minimal injuries," the sheriff's office said.

According to Welander, rescues are attempted between three and five times a year, and usually end with the recovery of a body. He said for every one survivor, there are about 20 deaths.

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"We get a lot of practice hauling dead bodies out of here," he said.

West Mason Fire issued a warning on its Facebook page Monday: "Remember, do NOT hike down next to the bridge.

"Luckily the 19 year old made it out alive. A lot of our rescues aren't so lucky," it said.

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