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Girl rescued after slipping into water at Whatcom Falls Park

Emergency responders from Bellingham Fire Department leave Whatcom Falls Park after responding to a 911 call about a child in the water on Thursday, March 17, in Bellingham, Wash. The girl’s mother was able to rescue her; the child wasn’t hurt.
Emergency responders from Bellingham Fire Department leave Whatcom Falls Park after responding to a 911 call about a child in the water on Thursday, March 17, in Bellingham, Wash. The girl’s mother was able to rescue her; the child wasn’t hurt. eabell@bhamherald.com

A young girl slipped into Whatcom Creek and was rescued Thursday, March 17, just upstream from a waterfall in a popular Bellingham park.

The girl and her family, from Burnaby, B.C., were visiting Whatcom Falls Park on a warm, sunny afternoon when she ventured out onto some slick, flat rocks east of the park’s landmark stone bridge.

The girl, who looked about 5 years old, slipped into the water around 1:45 p.m., said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Rob Kintzele.

Thor Plancich, 72, of Brier, heard splashing and yelling as he walked on the trail. Then he saw the girl in the water, being pulled by the current toward the iconic waterfall near the bridge.

“First thing I thought was: ‘Oh my God, they’re going to go over the falls,’” Plancich said.

The girl’s mother went into the water and grabbed her at the edge of the creek. One of Plancich’s friends, Suzy Lapic, was nearer to the family and helped bring them onto dry land. Plancich carried the shaking girl up to the closest parking lot and let her warm up in his faded blue Buick.

Plancich and Lapic estimated the girl had been in the water for at least two minutes. (The girl’s mother declined to talk with a Herald reporter.)

Bellingham firefighters brought gear for a water rescue but did not need to use it. Paramedics found the girl in the car, cold and wet but unharmed. She didn’t need to be taken to the hospital.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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