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Teen rescued after dangling from Foresthill Bridge 700 feet up in Northern California

19-year-old rescued after becoming stuck under Foresthill Bridge
19-year-old rescued after becoming stuck under Foresthill Bridge 02:33

PLACER COUNTY - A teen's call for help came as he became stuck hundreds of feet up in Placer County Monday. 

The Placer County Sheriff's Office says that, just before 6:30 p.m. Monday, it received a call about someone dangling from a rope on the Foresthill bridge. A 19-year-old was swinging from the underside of the bridge, while his friend, 17, was filming. 

Placer County Sheriff's Office

Based on video obtained by Cal Fire but not released to the public, the stunt was successful — until the older teen tried to pull himself back up the rope, hanging about 30 feet.

The equipment failed, causing him to be stuck under the catwalk, the sheriff's office said. And after they determined that they couldn't get the teen back up to the catwalk themselves, they called 911.

"I think it's a little ridiculous to do something like that," said Auburn resident Mark Slack.

The ridiculous stunt, and even just the mere idea of it, was shocking to people like Slack.

"That is a really tall bridge. I'm not sure I would be doing that," he said. "No judgment, but come on, guys."

More than 24 crew members from the Placer County Sheriff's Office and Cal Fire NEU were called out to the scene to assist with the rescue. A rescuer was lowered to the teen and was able to bring him back up to the catwalk.

"This is the first incident of a live rescue in the last 30 years," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nolan Hale.

Hale said any kind of stunt involving the Foresthill Bridge is illegal, including bungee and base-jumping, as most incidents involving the bridge are recovery operations.

"Someone dangling 700 feet above the American River is a high-risk operation with vertical rope rescue," Hale said.

The rescue took about two hours due to the high-risk nature, underscoring the fact that these kinds of stunts do not only put you at risk but the rescuers as well.

"Once we got him back up on the catwalk, he was pretty shaken up," Hale said. "He was in that harness for probably an hour and fifteen before we could get him up and off."

The teen was checked on scene by medics, and, with no visible injuries, declined any medical attention. Both teens were cited for trespassing.

It was a risky stunt with a happy ending thanks to the quick action of first responders.

"At the end of the day, these kids are alive and that makes me super happy," said El Dorado County resident Maureen Meehan.

The Foresthill Bridge stands 730 feet above the North Fork of the American River between Foresthill and Auburn. The bridge has been featured in several commercials and movies. Perhaps most notably, Vin Diesel's character in the Movie XXX drove off the bridge and parachuted to his accomplices.

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