Man, 22, in critical condition after near-drowning at Bellingham park

After a near-drowning at Whatcom Falls Park, a cliff-jumper remained in critical condition at St. Joseph hospital Saturday, June 20.

The 22-year-old man leapt from tall rocks — about 30 to 50 feet high — into a swimming hole known as The Whirlpool in the popular Bellingham city park around 6:55 p.m. Friday.

He did not resurface. Another young man jumped in, dove down and found the jumper wedged between rocks, said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett. Others joined in to help pull him ashore.

EMTs arrived just as the man reached land. The man was unresponsive. Paramedics performed CPR, felt a pulse, and rushed the man to St. Joseph hospital.

He remained unconscious as the ambulance dropped him off at the emergency room.

“The situation was still very critical,” Hewett said.

A nursing supervisor confirmed the man’s condition remained critical Saturday afternoon.

Police declined to identify him by name.

The swimming hole has signs warning people of shallow spots, boulders and the general danger of jumping in. On warm summer days like Friday, however, swimmers often ignore the warnings.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.