Fallen teen’s friend: ‘I tried saving him’

Justin Bitterlich was rescued after he fell 100 feet down a ravine near Corbett, July 30, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Justin Bitterlich was rescued after he fell 100 feet down a ravine near Corbett, July 30, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KOIN) — A Troutdale teen is recovering after falling 100 feet down a ravine in the Columbia Gorge Tuesday morning. He was airlifted to the hospital.

While hiking with two friends, Justin Bitterlich initially fell about 20 feet at Lewis and Clark Park near Corbett, but then hit a steep slope and tumbled an additional 80 feet. The 18-year-old was coherent enough to call 911 on his cell phone.

A rescue operation for a man who fell more than 100 feet into a ravine at the Lewis and Clark State Park in Troutdale, Ore. Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
A rescue operation for a man who fell more than 100 feet into a ravine at the Lewis and Clark State Park in Troutdale, Ore. Tuesday, July 30, 2013.

His friend Aron Homsley said they went to Broughton Bluff for the incredible view.

“I tried saving him when he fell I grabbed his jacket — but the zipper unzipped and he rolled right out of his jacket,”  Homsley told KOIN 6 News. “He slipped, he started tumbling down the hillside. I started running after him and then he stopped for a minute — and then started tumbling again.”

He said he ran down, hoping to find Bitterlich, and then ran back up.

“[I)]started screaming for my brother, ‘Call 911′ and found him eventually. He was holding onto a log, barely.”

The Corbett Fire Department called in its rope rescuers around 8 a.m. It took several hours before Bitterlich was hoisted up the hill in a basket.

Mike Griffith with the Corbett Fire Department said it was a difficult rescue just getting to him. “Our crews responded off the top of the bluff and rappelled down to him, approximately 50 to 60 feet.”

“He was grunting, he was in pain,” Holmsley said. “I kept telling him I was sorry. I tried my best to help him.”

Bitterlich was airlifted to an area hospital and is expected to fully recover.

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