Park knew of broken railing before boy's fall

Credit: Liam Pelot

Wilson Pelot, 10, recovers in the hospital.

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by KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 8:08 PM

SILVERTON, Ore. – Oregon State Park workers said they were aware of a broken railing in Silver Falls State Park even before a 10-year-old boy leaned on it, fell and ended up in the hospital.

Wilson Pelot, 10, of Portland was injured when he fell near the Upper Falls at Silver Falls State Park Sunday afternoon.

Pelot, now in intensive care, was on a hike with his father when he stopped to take a break. He leaned against a railing that gave way, sending him plummeting 40 feet down into a creek, said Lt. Gregg Hastings with Oregon State Police.

The boy's father went down the bank to the river and carried him across the creek to wait for emergency crews. Around 3:45 p.m., paramedics treated the boy then took him to the hospital, Hastings said.

"Hi everybody," Wilson said in a video shared by the family. "I love you and thank gosh I survived and I hope to see you soon."

Park workers knew the railing was broken and damaged by storms around the first of the year. The railing had orange ribbon tied to it at the time of Pelot's fall, but no warning signs. Now, it is covered in bright caution tape. 

"What I would have liked to have seen was the day that we were at the trail, that there was caution and danger tape up and Wilson would have known that the railing was not operable and it was dangerous," Wilson's father, Liam Pelot, said.  

Other hikers wondered why the railing was not fixed.

"I think it's insane," said hiker Michael Lockbaum. "You got to have a little more maintenance."

The South Trail at Silver Falls is one of the most spectacular in a park known for its natural beauty.

Park manager Kevin Strandberg said more than one million people visit the park each year and only 20 to 30 get hurt, usually just with scrapes from tripping or slipping.

The railing was on a list of scheduled maintenance projects but workers had not gotten to it, Strandberg said. The trail remains open.

"It's always sad when one of our visitors gets hurt coming out to the park," Strandberg said. "We do have the trail open. It's a very popular trail to have right now. We believe it's safe the way it's properly signed right now."

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