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An Olympic National Park visitor’s afternoon hike ended in a close call after he was swept down three waterfalls.
Josh Reichert, 30, was visiting Sol Duc Falls on May 20 with his wife to celebrate their anniversary. He had crossed to a rock at the center of the river, just above the falls, when he discovered himself stranded.
Rather than waiting for emergency personnel to rescue him, Reichert attempted to cross and was swept into the falls below. He then slipped under a log and fell down two more sets of falls, shattering his heel and nearly drowning along the way. Another visitor, Sandy Wilson, caught his ordeal on camera.
After falling a total of 70 feet, Reichert swam to the shore. An EMT from a local fire department was the first to reach him, and kept him warm while Olympic Mountain Rescue made its way to the scene. First responders hauled him back to the top in a basket, then transported him to Olympic Medical Center. He was then transferred to Harborview Medical Center, where surgeons operated on his foot.
Reichert is now recovering at home in Lynnwood, Washington.
Survive a waterfall
The first step for anyone caught in Reichert’s situation: take a deep breath and wait for help. If can’t avoid going over the falls, follow these tips.
-Take a deep breath right before going over.
-Avoid head injury by positioning your feet below you. Wrap your arms around your head, and use the crook of your elbow to cover your nose.
-Tighten your muscles, pressing your legs together. As you plunge over the edge, shut your eyes and mouth.
-At the bottom, you might find yourself disoriented. Exhale slowly and follow the bubbles to the surface, then begin swimming downstream.