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Teen survives 400-foot fall from canyon in Washington state

The teen was walking along a former trail beneath the High Steel Bridge, one of the tallest railroad bridges in the U.S., when he fell Saturday, authorities said.

A teenager who plunged 400 feet from a dangerous canyon in Washington state over the Memorial Day weekend walked away with only minor injuries, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

The teen was walking along a former trail beneath the High Steel Bridge, one of the tallest railroad bridges in the U.S., when he fell Saturday, authorities said.

“We’ve told people to stay off these trails because they’re dangerous, but people either haven’t seen the warning signs or are disregarding it,” said Tim Ripp, a Mason County sheriff’s patrol corporal who was part of the rescue mission.

Authorities have not identified the teen, who sustained only scrapes to both of his arms and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. NBC affiliate KING of Seattle reported that he is 19 years old.

Five to seven people fall off the bridge every year, and the majority die, Ripp said, even though the area is being outfitted with scattered warning signs, including one describing how steep, slippery and unsafe the bridge is.

During the two-hour rescue mission, deputies and firefighters used a rope and harness to scale the bridge and rescue the teenager, the county sheriff’s office said.

“Hooked him up into a harness and brought him all the way back up,” West Mason Fire Chief Matthew Welander said, according to KING. “He was walking down a washout that a lot of people use and has kind of become a trail.”

He ended up all the way down at the river, he added.

Officials said a lack of respect for nature and not paying attention are part of the problem as people continue falling from the bridge.

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Referring to the teen, Welander said, “He was incredibly lucky,” the station reported.

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