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‘Right Place At The Right Time,’ BYU Student Credited With Saving Fellow Student On Bridal Veil Falls

PROVO CANYON, Utah – A BYU student who became stranded while rappelling Bridal Veil Falls wouldn’t have survived much longer in the cold waters, according to rescue crews, and is only alive because a fellow student rescued him.

(Courtesy of Chandler Doerr)

Kendall Barlow, 22, of Orem, got stuck in the main section of the waterfall after a large knot in his rope prevented him from descending any farther.

“All I could think was, ‘Get out from the water, get away because it’s so cold,’” Barlow said of the hour he spent dangling in the falling water. “Any longer and I would have been unconscious.”

(Courtesy of Chandler Doerr)

“He was very hypothermic,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Barlow tried to escape the water for about an hour by kicking against the rocks, Cannon said. It was at that time that BYU student Zander Smith arrived and learned that Barlow was trapped about halfway down the 200 foot drop.

Smith, 24, of Hamilton, Montana, jumped into action and lowered himself next to Barlow and began to assess the situation.

“He was to the point where he wasn’t even shaking anymore, but like his lips were blue,” Smith said. “He was obviously really cold and obviously nervous being up there.”

(Courtesy of Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

Smith said he worked quickly to attach himself to Barlow and work on untangling the knot.

“The knot itself was about as big as a basketball, so it was pretty bad,” he said.

But before he could make any progress on the tangled rope, Barlow started going downhill quickly, Smith said. His alertness faded and he stopped answering questions.

“He just wasn’t really responding,” Smith explained. “When I’d ask him something he’d be mumbling or muttering.”

That’s when Smith used a knife the cut the two men free and lower them down to the ground.

“He saved his life,” Cannon said about Smith’s efforts. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he save his life.”

Cannon said Barlow wasn’t injured — except for a few scrapes and bruises — and was treated by first responders from the North Fork Fire Department.

“The good thing is that hypothermia is usually very easy to recover from,” Cannon said.

Zander Smith, left, and Kendall Barlow look at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon

The two students, who met for the first time dangling dangerously in a waterfall, said the experience has bonded them for life.

“I feel for him,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult situation. It’s a difficult climb and it can happen to anyone.”

Both men said they prayed for a safe outcome during the ordeal and believe that Smith, who has some training in search and rescue, was meant to arrive when he did.

“Definitely in the right place at the right time,” Barlow said. “I could say, ‘thank you,’ but it’s not enough. I don’t think it will ever be forgotten.”

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