A 9-year-old boy was forced to climb down from “a very steep” waterfall hike alone after his stepdad accidentally fell to his death off a near-vertical slope.
The incident occurred on Saturday at Bridal Veil Falls — a popular but dangerous hiking spot in Provo Canyon, Utah. The deceased man was later identified as 40-year-old Adrian Vanderklis, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. The boy is not being publicly identified.
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According to Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the sheriff’s office (pictured speaking to the media on Sunday in the inset, above), deputies received a 9-1-1 call from the boy’s mother just after 7:00 p.m. local time reporting the missing pair. She told deputies that she could see her son, who was crying, but she could not see her fiancé and she “hadn’t seen him in several hours.”
Utah County sheriff’s deputies rushed to the rural scene several miles northeast of the suburban Salt Lake City community of Orem. By the time they arrived, the boy had made it back down the mountain on his own, uninjured. Immediately, police set up a search-and-rescue team and volunteers began combing the walking areas around the popular hiking attraction. Simultaneously, the Utah Department of Public Safety launched a helicopter crew to fly overhead. At 7:45 p.m. local time, emergency services officials spotted Vanderklis’ body about one-third of a mile west of Bridal Veil Falls. After falling, it had come to rest on a very steep “near-vertical” slope down the falls at an elevation of nearly 5,800 feet.
A team of search-and-rescue volunteers made their way to Vanderklis, and determined that he did not survive his injuries sustained in the fall. Darkness began to set in at that point, and officials paused their recovery effort in the name their own safety. They resumed before 7:00 a.m. local time Sunday morning, recovering Vanderklis’ body by helicopter and taking it to the Utah County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy.
In a statement to the media and the public about the ongoing investigation of the incident, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office relayed (below):
“While it is unclear exactly why Mr. Vanderklis fell, it is possible he stumbled, or slipped on loose material. Regardless, it appeared he was killed immediately as a result of the fall. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Vanderklis and his fiancé and her family.”
So, so sad.
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Here’s more on the tragic incident from Fox 13 Utah (below), which also reports this is at least fifth death at Provo Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls site in the last few years:
Sending our love and condolences to Vanderklis’ family, friends, and loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time.
[Image via Fox 13 Utah/YouTube]