CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. - A 15-year-old Crooked River Ranch boy who suffered serious injuries Tuesday evening when he fell 40 to 50 feet down a cliff while trying to retrieve his dropped cellphone was in fair condition Wednesday at a Portland hospital, officials said.
It took nearly two hours for 10 members of Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue's high-angle rope rescue team to bring out the teen, identified as Josh "J.J." Keas.
Keas' father, Chris McMillen, told NewsChannel 21 his son had dropped his cellphone from the viewpoint during a visit there with his church youth group.
He said Josh walked down a trail to find it, and spotted the phone about 50 feet uphill from the trail.
"So he began to climb up," McMillen said. "It was a hike, a 45-degree angle. It was just loose dirt and rock. About 50 feet up there, he slipped and fell."
The boy was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to St. Charles Bend, then flown late Tuesday night to Oregon Health & Science University, said Capt. Sean Hartley. An OHSU spokeswoman said he was in fair condition Wednesday afternoon.
Friends who witnessed the fall in the area of the canyon overlook called authorities shortly after 6:30 p.m., Hartley said.
It took emergency crews about 10 minutes to get to the patient.
"It's very, very critical to reach that patient as soon as we can, to evaluate the necessity of helicopters and-or more personnel," said Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wilson.
Due to the steep terrain and the nature of injuries, the rope rescue system was required to remove the teen safely, an effort that took until after nightfall to conclude, officials said.
McMillen said his son "has some quite extensive broken bones. It was pretty extensive damage to his face and arm."
The teen's father said it could take weeks for J.J. to make a full recovery.
"Everyone just keep him in your thoughts and hope for a really fast recovery," McMillen said.
Wilson said the nearly tragic incident offers some key safety reminders.
"It's important that everyone stay away from cliff edges, where the ground and footing is often unstable," he said. "Fortunately, this incident ended positively, but it could have ended differently -- and no cellphone is worth a life."
CRR Fire & Rescue's high-angle rope rescue team is comprised of career and volunteer members who are certified rope rescue technicians, Hartley said. The team trains regularly for such rescues in the Deschutes and Crooked river canyons and uses an array of equipment and ingenuity to safely accomplish the tasks, he added.
The teen's father has created a GoFundMe site to help with expenses, at https://www.gofundme.com/jjkeas