A 25-year-old man was injured Saturday, July 9, when he fell about 40 feet from the top of Racehorse Falls, a popular hiking destination in a remote area between Kendall and Welcome.
“Somehow he slipped up on the top and tumbled over and came over the falls and landed in the pool there,” said Chief Jerry DeBruin of Whatcom County Fire District 14. “Fortunately, there were other people there and they were able to get him out of the water and onto some rocks.”
Emergency radio dispatches immediately after the 2:30 p.m. incident indicated that the man may have suffered head, chest and abdominal injuries and was having difficulty breathing. Citing medical confidentiality laws, DeBruin could say only that the man was severely injured.
Firefighters hiked about a half-mile into a narrow gorge to reach the man, he said. Nearly 20 people helped get him to safety, DeBruin said, including civilians, firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies who answered the emergency alarm.
Firefighters took precautions to protect the man’s spine, placing him in a vacuum mattress and then on a plastic toboggan-like “sked” so he could be carried to the trailhead on a logging track above North Fork Road. From there, Medic One paramedics took him by ambulance to an Airlift Northwest helicopter that flew him to St. Joseph hospital.
DeBruin said hikers at the falls had mobile phone service and could call for help immediately. He said the patient was airlifted about 3:50 p.m.
According to the website Aaron’s Waterfall World, Racehorse Falls is a 139-foot cascade in four tiers above a swimming hole on Racehorse Creek, a tributary of the north fork of the Nooksack River.