BASS LAKE — After posting our story on an elderly man who fell some 150 feet down to the rocky banks of Willow Creek on Sunday, we were contacted by one of the amazing young men who rendered aid and stayed by his side until help arrived.
“My name is Davis Young and I was the young man in the American flag swim trunks,” said the email this morning.
We were delighted to hear from one of the good Samaritans who helped the injured man and saw that rescuers were contacted after the 92-year-old Bass Lake resident – whose name is George – fell from just a few feet below Road 274 near the Willow Creek Bridge.
Davis is a 17-year-old student just finishing up his junior year in high school. His family flew in from Lambert, Missouri, the day before this incident happened, for a week-long, first-time vacation at Ducey’s on Bass Lake.
Davis tells us that he and his older brother Will were walking up the creek to “find a nice waterfall to hang out in,” when they heard George yelling for help. They heard him before they saw him, Davis says, adding that there were two other young men trying to make their way over to where George was laying, tangled in dense brush.
“A gentleman in a black tee shirt and chain necklace was asked to go for help and he went running down the creek to find a cell phone,” Davis recounts. He and Will stayed with George and, unable to provide him drinking water, Davis took off his shirt and soaked it in the creek, using it to dab at George’s head and keep him cool.
Davis says George told him he had fallen sometime around noon, and by now it was about 3:30 p.m.
Davis relied on his first aid training to decide what to do while they waited for help to arrive.
“I was attempting to cradle his head and neck to keep them straight,” says Davis, who describes standing in the tangle of a “briar patch” to avoid slipping on the wet rocks of the creek.
Once the man who had gone to call 911 returned and let them know help was on the way, Will hurried back down the creek to flag down emergency crews when they arrived.
For nearly half-an-hour, Davis stayed with George, keeping his head and neck stable, and talking to him. As they waited, another man came upon the scene, telling Davis his name was Harris, and that he worked for Cal Fire in San Diego.
“Once I told Harris everything I knew, he realized there was nothing more we could do at the moment to assist, so he began cutting away some of the briar stalks,” Davis recalls.
Just as Harris was working to clear the dense, spikey brush to create clear access for emergency personnel, Cal Fire, Madera County Fire and Madera County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue (MADSAR) crews began to arrive up on Road 274.
“When they saw the steep incline, they began trying to work their way around to find a way down to get to us,” says Davis.
After assessing the situation and realizing there was no way to carry the injured man out without sliding and falling into the rushing water, rescuers requested a MADSAR team for a high-angle rope rescue. Davis says at that point, a paramedic rappelled down to their location with a litter, and they began preparing George for the hoist up the nearly vertical incline to the waiting ambulance.
Will had been cleaning some of George’s wounds and as the process of loading the patient onto the litter got underway, he provided stable footing for Davis and the paramedic to keep them from slipping on the wet boulders.
After George was lifted to safety, the brothers and Harris went off down the creek, leaving the unanswered question as to who these people were that likely saved this man’s life. So receiving an email this morning from the young men introducing themselves was the perfect way to complete this story. (Though we still do not know the identity of Harris).
During our email exchange, Davis and Will inquired after George’s condition, still concerned about the well-being of the man they helped to rescue.
A call to George’s daughter-in-law Diana revealed that he is doing well – certainly as well as can be expected after a harrowing fall, suffered by a man in his nineties.
Diana told us that George suffered three broken ribs, and will remain in the hospital for a few days so that doctors can monitor his condition and watch for any signs of pneumonia. She says it turns out his arm wasn’t broken.
When asked if George goes out hiking very often, she said, “Oh, no. When we got the call, we thought they must be talking about someone else.”
Diana says George likely just took a few steps off the roadway to have a look down at the water, and lost his footing.
We wish Davis and Will and their entire family a fun, relaxing and hopefully uneventful time during the duration of their stay at the lake!
To read the original story of the rescue, click here.