Teen rescued after falling 150 feet in the Gorge ‘happy to be alive’
TROUTDALE, Ore. (KPTV) — It’s been almost one week since a Troutdale teenager was rescued after tumbling 150 feet down the side of a cliff in the Columbia River Gorge, and now Kole Snuggerud and some of the strangers who saved his life are sharing their stories.
Snuggerud, 16, had been hiking with some friends near the Angel’s Rest trail on March 23 when the trip took a sudden turn.
He fell – nearly to his death.
“I remember hiking up and playing around at the top,” Snuggerud said. “But then I don’t remember coming up to the fall at all. I don’t remember any of that.”
He doesn’t remember the first responders who rushed to help, either.
Mychal Costanzo, his wife Kristy and friend Victoria Brown are three of the five adults – perfect strangers – who risked their own lives that day.
They happened to be on their first hike in years, also at Angel’s Rest that day and even passed Snuggerud on the trail 20 minutes earlier.
“Then we hear a girl scream and said she just saw somebody fall off a cliff,” Kristy Costanzo recalled. “From that point on it was kind of a blur, to be honest with you.”
“He looked dead,” Victoria Brown added. “The way his body was mangled, he looked bad.”
They scaled down the hillside to reach Snuggerud and found he was still breathing.
Colleagues in the ER at Providence Portland, Mychal Costanzo used to be a paramedic.
“I keep trauma shears on me, abdominal pads, gauze, Ace wrap,” he said.
He cut Snuggerud’s shirt, and checked his vitals and airway as Kristy and Victoria held the teen up, keeping him from falling the rest of the way down the cliff.
They stayed there for hours, talking with Snuggerud and keeping him warm, until a Coast Guard helicopter arrived to fly him to OHSU.
He’d broken his femur, part of his hip and two vertebrae in his lower back in the fall.
He spent a few days in the hospital.
“[I’m] feeling good, happy to be alive,” Snuggerud said. “I’m still thankful, it’s amazing to see them here.”
His rescuers say it’s the other way around.
“It was worth it, seeing that kid’s smile over there,” Mychal Costanzo added. “It’s definitely worth it.”
It will still be a few weeks before Snuggerud can put much weight on his leg, but he hopes to return to school at Centennial High School in Gresham on Monday.