MYNORTHWEST NEWS

19-year-old survives nearly 400 foot fall in Mason County

May 27, 2024, 1:01 PM

Photo: The High Steel Bridge in Mason County, Washington, can be seen from a distance. (Photo court...

The High Steel Bridge in Mason County, Washington, can be seen from a distance. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region)

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region)

A 19-year-old walked away with only minor injuries after falling about 400 feet in Mason County.

The man slipped and fell on Saturday near the High Steel Bridge, southwest of Hood Canal. Mason County Sheriff’s Corporal Tim Ripp told KIRO Newsradio it’s always dangerous when people explore the nearby canyon walls.

“The terrain on the side trails changes drastically and it’ll look like you’re walking on a trail and the brush and growth and everything, you’ll walk right off the cliff,” he explained.

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The 19-year-old was with his family at the time, when he ventured off on his own and fell. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office said rescue crews pulled the man to safety from the bottom of the bridge.

Ripp told KIRO Newsradio when crews found the man, he was cold and wet because he went into the Skokomish River and then went on top of a rock.

“He was cold and wet but he was alive and that was very fortunate because many have not ended in the same manner,” he said.

Ripp shared he was happy the man survived because not everyone does.

“It was a relief actually hearing him yell for help because it’s a good sign that he’s alive because we’ve had many over the years that unfortunately have been fatal,” he said.

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According to the Washington Trails Association, High Steel Bridge is the tallest railroad bridge ever built in the U.S. It was built by the Simpson Logging Company in 1929 and was converted into a road during the 1950’s to 1960’s.

“This is not really a hike but you can walk across the bridge and check out the excellent dizzying views down into the canyon.  There is a trail that descends into the canyon but it is closed because it is too dangerous,” states the Washington Trails Association website.

Ripp explained the area near the High Steel Bridge is a trouble spot because the side trails are so unstable that people easily lose their footing. And even though there are signs in the area warning people to stay off the side trails, crews respond to about five deaths every year below the bridge.

Contributing: Aaron Granillo, KIRO Newsradio

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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