A 4-year-old boy on a family outing at the coast was rescued Monday evening after falling more than 200 feet off a cliff at Bodega Head, landing on the rocky beach below.
The boy, whose name wasn’t available Monday night, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by ambulance and arrived in “stable but critical condition,” fire officials said.
The boy, his parents and a sibling were on top of Bodega Head and the boy was throwing rocks near a trail, fire and law enforcement representatives said.
Then his mother realized the boy had disappeared, State Parks Supervising Peace Officer Tim Murphy said. A cellphone call was routed through the CHP to Bodega Bay Fire Department rescuers.
Initially, it was believed the boy had fallen into the cold bay waters, but firefighter- paramedics from Bodega Bay spotted the boy at the bottom of a 230-foot cliff, Capt. Justin Fox said.
As the boy’s frantic family watched from the top of the cliff, firefighter-paramedics Marco Barros and Josh Perucchi rappelled down with a rescue basket and reached the boy, with help from illumination flares fired into the air from a Coast Guard motor lifeboat.
Rescue officials said it wasn’t clear what condition the boy was in when Barros and Perucchi reached him.
They immediately “packaged him” in the basket, strapped in with a child-size backboard in the adult-size litter created especially for difficult cliff rescues.
“By the time he reached the top of the cliff, he was crying,” Fox said.
Murphy was heartened to know the boy was showing signs of life when he was lifted to the top of the cliff.
“Hopefully he makes it,” he said. “God loves little kids.”
Other rescuers carried the litter, with the boy wrapped in yellow blankets, to a waiting ambulance where, Murphy said, paramedics continued advanced life-support measures.
A Coast Guard helicopter had landed on a nearby hillside, but its crew determined it was unsafe to take off because of the steep slope it was on.
A REACH helicopter was scheduled to meet the ambulance in the town of Bodega, but paramedics said they would just rush him to Memorial. Fog and low visibility also concerned rescuers.
Hospital officials declined to provide an update on the boy’s condition, citing federal health care privacy laws.
Fox said many of the agencies that responded Monday night had participated in a training rescue last week just north of where the boy apparently fell.
Sunset was fast approaching as rescuers arrived, Murphy said, also a concern for visibility.
“Light was fading quickly,” he said.
Murphy praised the Bodega Bay fire crew, who set up their ropes in an ideal position to reach the boy quickly.
“They made a good call,” he said.
“He was at the water line and it was low tide,” Fox said. “If it was high tide, he wouldn’t have been as easy to find.
“That’s the highest section of cliff we have,” he said. “Also, it has that sandstone and limestone that crumbles. It’s a very challenging section of cliff as far as rescues go. Plus, there’s the ocean when you get down there.”
The incident is the second rescue in three days. On Saturday, a 23-year-old woman climbing rocks in Bodega Head slipped and fell about 20 feet down.
2017 Recreational Abalone Season at a Glance
April and November now closed to the harvest of red abalone
Season open May 1 - June 30, Aug. 1 - Oct. 31
Fishing permitted 8 a.m. to half-hour after sunset daily
Season limit is 12 per calendar year, reduced from 18 last year
Only 9 abalone may be taken from waters south of Mendocino County
Daily limit is 3 abalone
Minimum size is 7 inches or more measured at the longest shell diameter
SOURCE: California Department of Fish and Wildlife