On Sunday, June 18, around 10 a.m., a group of young men from the Bay Area were hiking near Angel Falls on Willow Creek above Bass Lake as a part of a graduation trip.
One of the young men, Matthew Salah, decided to take a photograph of the waterfalls with his cell phone, and slipped into the water, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
He was swept downstream by the current and went over the top two waterfalls before miraculously being forced into a dead tree that was sticking out of a pool below the second waterfall.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Rope Team was activated, and with the assistance of Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement personnel, was able to extract Salah from the rock where he was stuck,
Rescuers carried him down the approximate one-mile trail to a waiting ambulance, which transported him to an area hospital.
Salah is expected to fully recover.
This incident is the second swiftwater-related rescue on upper Willow Creek this year.
The public is encouraged to take extra care when in the vicinity of rapid moving water. Angel Falls is a known attraction, but is also a well-known hazard. It is the site of numerous injuries and rescues every year, and has been the location of many fatal accidents.
Visitors to the Angel Falls area should be extremely cautious, especially due to this year’s increased water levels.
(Photos courtesy of Madera County Sheriff)