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OREGON Hikers, others rescue Pa. man at waterfall



Published: Sat, August 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Benjamin Beck has made great strides since the accident, his father said.

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) -- At first, it looked like the young man was just enjoying a cool dip at the bottom of a waterfall on a hot day.

But when hikers called out to him, they knew something was wrong.

Benjamin Beck, 20, a college student in Pennsylvania, was rescued after hikers, campers and emergency medical workers pooled their efforts along a trail in a remote area of the Willamette National Forest.

"A lot of people came together, complete strangers from the campground," said Beck's grateful father, Brian. "I think they saved his life."

Brian Beck, who lives in Cleveland, said his son suffered a severe head injury but no broken bones or internal injuries after he apparently fell down the side of the 40-foot waterfall near House Rock Campground in the forest east of Albany.

Family reaches out

Derek and Shelley Hughes were hiking with their two daughters, Lexey and Peyton, when they noticed a young man lying still at the bottom of the falls. They called out to him, then called again, and he didn't move.

"When he didn't respond, we knew something was wrong," Derek Hughes said.

The Hughes family couldn't reach him, so Derek went running a half mile down the trail to the nearest camp site.

"I found the closest spot to cross and went sprinting across the river," Derek said. He found another man to help him and they ran back to the falls. Together, they swam across to Beck and managed to float him to the shore.

They covered him and tried to hold his head still, and Shelley Hughes huddled close to him to keep him warm.

"Pretty much the whole campground came together," Derek said. "People came and brought blankets for him."

Brian Beck said Saturday his son had shown remarkable improvement just that morning, able to get up and walk on his own for the first time since the Aug. 6 accident. Doctors expect a full recovery, he said.

His son is an environmental science student at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. He was spending his summer on assignment with the Northwest Youth Corps, working on a trail project in the Willamette National Forest. He was injured on his day off, after his co-workers dropped him off to hike and camp, with plans to pick him up the following day.

"If it hadn't been for Derek and Shelly Hughes, he would have been a goner," Brian Beck said about his son. "He was extremely lucky."




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