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Calif. responders rescue teen from 'fake' fall

MOUNT DIABLO, Calif. A 17-year-old Livermore boy was seriously injured Monday night in Mt. Diablo State Park when he tried to fake a fall for a camera and then actually fell 75 feet onto rocks, a park ranger said Tuesday.

The teenager was on Sentinel Rock, a vertical formation near Rock City popular for its views, when he moved outside the handrail, lost his footing and fell into a crevice and became wedged between rocks, San Ramon Valley Fire District Battalion Chief Mike Brown said.

Friends of the boy, who is hospitalized with multiple traumatic injuries today, told rescuers he had been trying to stage a photo of a fake fall for a MySpace Web page when he slipped and fell for real, said Dan Stefanisko, supervising ranger at Mt. Diablo State Park.

The teenager's friends flagged down park rangers, who summoned the fire department at 8:30 p.m.

It took about an hour for rescuers challenged by the steep terrain and absence of moonlight to save the boy. They used rock-climbing equipment to reach the crevice before they put the victim, who was conscious, on a gurney that they carried a half-mile to the Live Oak campground. There, they were met by a medical helicopter that transported the boy to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Brown said.

Witnesses said the boy appeared to be suffering from major leg injuries, said Stefanisko, who noted that neither alcohol nor drugs appear to have played a role in his fall.

"We were real lucky on this one," Brown said. "He had some serious injuries but I think he's going to be all right.

"It was pitch black, which makes it pretty tough to do that type of rescue, but we were real happy with the outcome."

Incidents like this one serve as a reminder to park visitors to stay inside the protective guard rails at all times and to obey all the other rules at Mt. Diablo State Park, Stefanisko said.

A college student died in the same area of the park where the Livermore teenager fell around this time last year.

On June 6, 2006, 22-year-old Nicholas Ermak of Danville fell several hundred feet after reportedly venturing outside a roped-off area on Sentinel Rock to climb rocks.

Ermak died two days later of major head injuries.

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