Man seriously injured from 30-foot fall into creek bed

Firefighters use side-angle rope system for rescue

An elderly man suffered serious injuries after he fell 30 feet down into a dry creek bed along the San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto on Saturday, a fire official said.

Around 3 p.m., firefighters responded to a report from a witness who saw the man fall down into the creek bed near Palo Alto Avenue and Waverley Street, fire Battalion Chief Ryan Stoddard said.

Four firefighters made their way to the man, who was in his 80s, by going down a narrow foot path about 500 yards from where he fell and performed first aid on him, Stoddard said.

Crews determined they needed to conduct a side-angle rope rescue based on the creek's conditions and steep slope, Stoddard said.

In less than an hour, they prepared the rope system, which involved lowering a Stokes basket where the man was secured, and raised up to the street, according to Stoddard.

"It was pretty fast for a situation like that to get all the ropes (ready)," Stoddard said.

The injured man was transferred to a gurney and taken to Stanford Hospital. He appeared to have broken his pelvis and ribs, the battalion chief said.

Stoddard did not know why the man was standing close to the edge or walking around in the area.

"It's always wise to be careful when you're around the creek bed," Stoddard said, and advised the public to be extra cautious if they're near any edge following rainfall.


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5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm

That creek bank is slippery and unstable, always caving in. Stay at least 2 feet back from the visible edge.

7 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm

The one firefighter is wearing a hard hat. The other two should be too. Never know what could fall on you from a steep hill.

7 people like this
Posted by Hardhat Wearer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2017 at 7:39 pm

I wear a hardhat everyday, in some situations it is a hindrance. Just thought I would clarify, for those that do not wear a hardhat everyday. Just sayin'.

4 people like this
Posted by Midtown guy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Why is fencing between Palo Alto Avenue and Creek so inconsistent ? Fencing prohibits walkers and bikers from venturing too close to that cliff. Some places are unfenced and you can walk a few steps from the roadbed to the edge of the Creek that drops down 20-30 feet.i never understood the City of Palo Alto allowing this hazard. Takes a lot to get their attention.

Plus, many homeless camp in their vehicles overnight along the creek. Can't you imagine a sleepy homeless person getting out of his vehicle in the middle of the night and falling into the creek, and no one sees him?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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