Boy, 11, survives 200-foot sliding fall in Utah’s Provo Canyon

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An 11-year-old boy was airlifted to a hospital but is expected to recover after he tumbled down a 200-foot rock slope while hiking with this family near a scenic waterfall in northern Utah, authorities said Monday.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said Cesar Varvagan of Orem tumbled down the rocky, steep slope Sunday in Provo Canyon.

The boy, who was awake and talking to rescuers, was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition, having hurt his head, back and hip and possibly broken his collarbone, officials said.

His condition improved overnight, and he was expected to be released from the hospital Monday, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. The boy’s parents declined through law enforcement to be interviewed.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the fall occurred while the boy was hiking on a steep trail next to Bridal Veil Falls.

He took a few jumping steps before tumbling down a steep slope with loose rocks and stones. He landed on a trail along the Provo River, Cannon said.

“Once he took those first couple steps, it’s not a sure footing at all. He tumbled and rolled most of the 200 feet,” Cannon said. “It was a fall, but it was more of a rolling fall than it was straight down a cliff.”

Close to the waterfall, the trail can get slippery from the spray, but Cannon said he believes the boy was outside that slippery area.

Bridal Veil Falls, a 607-foot waterfall dropping into the Provo River, is popular with hikers and bikers, according to Utah County’s tourism website. The waterfall freezes in the winter, making it a favorite spot for ice climbers.

With thousands of visitors every year and higher foot traffic in the summer, falls and injuries do occur in the canyon, Cannon said.

“With the number of visitors we have there, we’ll have a half-dozen or so times where we get calls for things similar to this,” he said. “They’re not usually this serious.”

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