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Pregnant woman falls from bridge when rappelling harness gives way

A pregnant 28-year old woman fell from the old Bonsall Bridge on Saturday, May 8 shortly after 7 a.m. when the harness she was wearing for rappelling gave way.

“She fell approximately 40 feet and landed on her buttocks,” said John Buchanan, public information officer for North County Fire.

Buchanan said Vista Fire was the first emergency responder on the scene and North County Fire provided backup. “[The woman] said she was six months pregnant; many safety precautions were taken so as not to injure her further,” explained Buchanan.

Emergency workers determined the safest way to extricate the woman from the scene was to load her into a Stokes basket and carry her to a nearby roadway for loading into a medical helicopter to transport her to Palomar Hospital.

“They used a backboard in the basket because she was complaining of low back pain,” said Buchanan. A Stokes basket is a stretcher designed for use on slopes, in wooded terrain, or in confined spaced for safe evacuation.

Unofficial sources said the woman was treated and released about 24 hours later from the hospital.

Emergency workers were unsure if the woman had been wearing the rappelling harness correctly, given the advanced state of her pregnancy.

Buchanan said he was unaware that private individuals used the old bridge for rappelling, but explained that North County Fire typically uses it twice a year.

“We practice rappelling there as part of our regular training exercises,” he said.

Buchanan said individuals need to use a great deal of caution when approaching the sport of rappelling.

“People that attempt this need to be highly trained and have equipment that is appropriate for it,” he said. “And, I would say that people should always ask their doctor about participating in an extreme sport like this, especially if they are pregnant.”

 

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