Family Rescued after Getting Stuck on Top of Waterfall

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. stranded / ˈstræn dɪd / (adj) – stuck or unable to leave a place

    Because of the storm, we were stranded at the airport.

  2. tributary / ˈtrɪb yəˌtɛr i / (n) – a river or stream that flows into a larger body of water

    The stream near my school is one of the city river’s tributaries.

  3. rappel / ræˈpɛl / (v) – to descend a cliff or vertical surface by sliding down a rope tied at the top of a slope and around a person’s body

    The mountaineer rappelled down the rocky cliff expertly.

  4. alert / əˈlɜrt / (v) – to make others aware of something

    The radio announcement alerted residents to prepare for the storm.

  5. upstream / ˈʌpˈstrim / (adv) – against the flow or current of a stream or river

    When we were hiking along the river, we saw salmon swimming upstream.


Read the text below.

A family of three campers was rescued after getting stranded on top of a 12-meter-tall waterfall in California, United States.

Curtis Whitson, his girlfriend, and his teenage son went on a four-day camping trip to the Arroyo Seco tributary. In the last part of their journey, the three were supposed to rappel down a waterfall but unexpectedly found themselves trapped. They were expecting a rope secured at the top of the waterfall, but it was missing. Whitson had used the same rope when he went to the area seven years prior. However, heavy rains had likely washed it away.

With no cell service, Whitson decided to send an SOS message. He carved “help” on either side of his water bottle, put a note with the date and their location inside, and tossed the bottle down the waterfall. He hoped that someone would find it and alert the authorities.

With nothing to do but wait, the family hiked upstream and also created an SOS sign out of rocks before settling down for the night.

At around midnight, the family awoke to hear the search and rescue team telling them that they have been found. The family was rescued and lifted to safety the following morning.

According to the rescuers, two hikers found Whitson’s water bottle. The hikers carried it to the Arroyo Seco Campground and informed the manager, who called in the rescue team. The rescue team used night-vision goggles and infrared technology to locate the family.

After the incident, Whitson and his family said that they hope to connect with and thank the two hikers who helped find them.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were in Whitson’s place, what would you have done to survive being stranded? Explain.
• What do you think runs through people’s minds when they get stranded? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you were a hiker or camper, how would you ensure that you would not get stranded? Explain.
• What safety guidelines should be in place for hikers or campers? Discuss.