PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Multnomah County sheriff's office says it took 14 emergency responders more than an hour to rescue a kayaker injured Sunday at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. The sheriff's office says 19-year-old Robert McKenzie of Eugene was taken to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland with a back injury. He was with a group of kayakers who took turns running the falls as they recorded video in the state park in the Columbia River Gorge.
Two other kayakers from Eugene apparently suffered broken noses navigating the 120-foot, two-step drop. All wore helmets and life vests.
Kayaker injured on Oregon's Bridal Veil Falls
AP News | 06/27/11 10:10 pm
A 19-year-old man who kayaked down 50 feet of a Columbia River Gorge waterfall remained hospitalized Monday, a day after 14 emergency responders spent more than an hour rescuing him. Robert McKenzie injured his back when he and three other Eugene-area kayakers decided to tackle the lower portion of Bridal Veil Falls on Sunday. His brother, Ben McKenzie, 18, reportedly suffered a broken nose. The falls, inside a state park, cascade 120 feet in a two-step drop. The kayakers said they entered about halfway down. Park employees have posted no-trespassing signs near the trail that leads to the top of the falls but not at the lower portion, said Chris Havel, an Oregon State Parks spokesman. Lt. Mark Matsushima, of the Multnomah County sheriff's office, told The Oregonian that the Oregon State Parks area manager decided not to cite the kayakers, who had on helmets and life vests. Still, Havel said, "We actively discourage this type of activity. It's not safe for the people attempting it, or the people below."
Matsushima said Robert McKenzie was injured after he appeared to try to enter the water in a different way, but smacked the pool at the bottom with the underside of his kayak. Matsushima said he was following another kayaker in the group, Althea Sullivan, 19, who successfully negotiated the drop. "When they got to the top, they said, `Boy, this looks a little higher than we thought or trained for,'" Matsushima said. "They were thinking they might turn back when Althea said `I'll go first.'" Sullivan told KGW-TV that it wasn't "that big of a deal. People run waterfalls that are bigger. It is a difficult drop, you just have to go into it with an understanding of what you're paddling into. There are a lot bigger stuff and a lot harder stuff being run."
There is reportedly at least one other video of someone kayaking down the falls. Matsushima said the incident Sunday was caught on video, both from the ground and from helmet-cams worn by the kayakers. The fourth kayaker, a 17-year-old boy, requested that his video not be publicly released but it has been turned over to the sheriff's office, Matsushima said. McKenzie was in good condition Monday in a Portland hospital. Information from: The Oregonian,
'Girl power,' peer pressure sent kayakers over the edge of lower Bridal Veil falls, official says
Published: Monday, June 27, 2011, 3:41 PM
by Stuart Tomlinson, The Oregonian
Bridal Veil Falls is a double drop with a combined height of over 100 feet. Kayakers this weekend went down the lower portion. People seek risky and hazardous thrills every day in the Columbia River Gorge, from rock climbing and windsurfing, to leaping off cliffs into waterfall pools. Even hiking has its risks. But police say four teenagers who decided to kayak down the lower portion of Bridal Veil falls in the Columbia River Gorge Sunday, might have taken that risk a little too far. Robert McKenzie, 19, of Eugene, suffered a back injury after he kayaked down the lower portion of the 120-foot falls at Bridal Veil State Park, following three friends who-for the most part-successfully navigated the drop. McKenzie was admitted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he was reported in good condition Monday. Althea Sullivan, 19, suffered a facial bruise in her attempt, and officials said Ben McKenzie, Robert McKenzie's brother, broke his nose.
An unnamed 17-year-old boy, was not hurt. "When they got to the top they said, 'Boy this looks a little higher than we thought or trained for,'" said Lt. Mark Matsushima, a spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. "They were thinking they might turn back when Althea said 'I'll go first.'" Later the kayakers admitted that peer pressure, and a bit of machismo, persuaded the others to follow. "They told us that there was a bit of hollering about "girl power!' after Althea went first," Matsushima said. f
Oregon State Parks Matsushima said the first three kayakers nosed-in to the pool at the bottom of the lower falls, and that's how two of them received facial injuries. Robert McKenzie, he said, appeared to try and back-paddle in an attempt to enter the water in a different way, but wound up smacking the pool at the bottom with the underside of his kayak. County officials said at least 14 emergency responders including sheriff's deputies, volunteer firefighters from Corbett Rural Fire District 14, and paramedics from American Medical Response worked for over an hour to get to the area over steep and rugged terrain. It took another hour to bring McKenzie to a waiting ambulance.
McKenzie issued a statement Monday from his hospital bed, where he thanked people for their "well wishes and concern. It is greatly appreciated. Right now, all of my attention is focused on getting better. Neither I, nor any of my family members will be giving interviews." The event was caught on video-both from the ground and from helmet cams worn by the kayakers, Matsushima said. The video was turned over to the sheriff's office, but Matsushima said Monday that the owner of the tape, the 17-year-old boy, has requested it not be publicly released.
The kayakers will not be cited, Matsushima, a decision made by the Oregon State Parks area manager. Chris Havel, an Oregon State Parks spokesman, said park employees have posted no trespassing signs near the trail that leads to the top, but not the top of the lower falls. There is at least one other video of someone kayaking down the falls on Vimeo. Rafting Bridal Veil Falls from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo. "We actively discourage this type of activity,'' Havel said. "It's not safe for the people attempting it, or the people below. It's inappropriate state parks behavior." Matsushima said that while "common sense dictates that kayaking off waterfalls is not a good idea," he admitted that some people think rock climbing is also a dumb idea, but people do it all the time in the Columbia River Gorge. But some areas are closed off to climbing because they are considered too dangerous. "It's that fine edge,'' he said. "We want people to recreate, but the other side of it is when they engage in extreme behavior they need to know they might get injured. "To their credit, they had helmets and life vests." -
-Stuart Tomlinson © 2011 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.