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Hawaii: Teen survives fall into crevice at Volcanoes National Park

April 11, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • A 15-year-old San Rafael, Calif., boy fell down a steam vent in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. He suffered only bumps and bruises.
A 15-year-old San Rafael, Calif., boy fell down a steam vent in Volcanoes… (National Park Service )

A California teenager is lucky to be alive, officials say, after falling 25 feet down a scorchingly hot crack in the Earth’s surface at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Rescuers were summoned shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday to a steam vent between the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Volcano House hotel, not far from the park’s main entrance.

The 15-year-old boy from San Rafael, who was not identified, fell into the crack while trying to leap over the protective railing that’s intended to keep visitors away from the hole.

Firefighters and a member of the park’s search and rescue team rappelled into the deep, chimney-like crevice to reach the boy, who had landed on a narrow ledge. He suffered only minor bumps and abrasions. The family refused medical treatment.

“This young visitor and his family are extraordinarily lucky that he survived this mishap,” Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said in a written statement. “This incident serves as a reminder that park visitors are urged to stay on trails and not engage in reckless behavior while visiting their national parks.”

A sign posted near the vent notes that the steam is created when rainwater seeps into the volcanic rock.

The sign notes that “vapor temperature 4 feet down is 160 degrees.” 

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