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Boy 'lucky to be alive' after fall into volcano steam vent

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:34 p.m. HST, Apr 11, 2013

A 15-year-old boy from San Rafael, Calif. is “lucky to be alive,” after falling 20 to 25 feet  into a steam vent at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Wednesday night, the National Park Service said in a news release today.

The boy apparently leaped over a protective railing at the steam vent near the Volcano House and visitors center, the park service said.

A park service search and rescue teams and Hawaii County firefighters based in the park responded to a 911 call from the victim’s mother at about 6:43 p.m.

Search and rescue coordinator John Broward, assisted by firefighters, rappelled into the deep, narrow, chimney-like crack in the earth and rescued the boy.

The boy suffered a bump on the head and minor abrasions and refused further medical treatment.

The National Park Service said the steam rising from the vent is formed when rain water encounters hot rocks. The steam temperature in the vent can reach 160 degrees, cooling to 120 degrees at the surface.

“This young visitor and his family are extraordinarily lucky that he survived this mishap,” Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said. “This incident serves as a reminder that park visitors are urged to stay on trails and not engage in reckless behavior while visiting their national parks.”

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