Hiker shares safety message after terrifying rappelling accident at Battle Creek Falls
Jul 13, 2023, 7:09 PM
PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A hiker shares her safety message saying several families at a popular Utah County waterfall watched a rappelling accident in shock and horror.
Even on a short, family hike with her husband and daughter, Bekka Fullmer is always prepared. She said she has first aid and CPR training and carries tons of water and a first aid kit.
When she and her family reached Battle Creek Falls on Saturday afternoon, Bekka could see the falls didn’t look like they have in drier years.
“I immediately noticed that the water was a lot heavier than it has been in years past,” she said, walking up to the falls on Thursday.
They took some quick family photos as one group of rappelers finished their descents. Fullmer said she didn’t want to get too close to the water because she noticed loose rocks falling down from the cliffside.
As they looked up at the falls, Fullmer watched a second group approach the top of the falls to rappel down, and she became concerned.
“I noticed that she had nobody belaying her, or at least doing a fireman hold watching from below,” Fullmer recalled.
As an experienced rappeler herself, Fullmer explained that she always carries walkie-talkies so that everyone rappelling can communicate.
As the woman began her journey down in the thickest part of the waterfall, her foot caught on the wet, slippery rock.
“She had one leg under her, and her other leg had come up past her head like this, like she was doing splits on the side of the wall,” Fullmer explained, using her arms to demonstrate the unnatural and contorted position.
She said the woman appeared to go into shock and began seizing.
“And after that happened, she hung there for a moment and then passed out,” she said.
Fullmer said she yelled to the woman next to her to call 911.
“I started running up the hill to go to the top. Her companions at the top had no clue at first what was going on,” Fullmer recounted.
That’s because they couldn’t see the woman over the cliffside. They also had no way to help her.
“There were no proper knots to let her loose,” Fullmer explained. “And so, her companions were at this disadvantage where they could watch her, but there was nothing they could do.”
With both rappelling and first responder experience, Fullmer said she was ready to help with CPR and to assist the woman however she needed. But she wasn’t sure what would happen.
“I honestly thought that she was going to have a major head injury, or possibly die,” Fullmer said.
After about 15 minutes of the woman hanging off the cliff, water rushing over her face and limp body, Fullmer said the rappeler came to, completely disoriented. But she was able to let herself down.
“I was I was so grateful,” Fullmer said. The group appeared to not want Fullmer’s assistance, so she continued the hike with her husband and daughter.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said they initially dispatched their search and rescue team once that 911 call came in, but they called it off because the woman’s friends decided to take her to the hospital themselves.
Fullmer isn’t sure how the woman is doing now and hopes the woman is recovering.
But she’s hoping others can take an important lesson away from this experience, that no matter where they’re headed outdoors– or what activity they’re doing– it’s important to be knowledgeable and take extra safety precautions.
That’s why even on a short family hike, Fullmer carries extra water, that first aid kit, plus her training if something goes wrong.
“You can always overprepare and not need it,” She said. “But when you’re underprepared and need it, that’s not the time to say, ‘I don’t have the things that I need to be safe.'”