South Bay News

San Jose teen hero recounts terrifying rescue in Yosemite

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A split-second decision by a San Jose teenager saved a boy from falling more than 300-feet. It happened at Yosemite's Vernal Falls.

"All of a sudden you hear this mom screaming, like bloody murder, 'oh my god save my baby, save my baby!'" Alec Smith said. "After I hopped the fence, I could hear my parents screaming, like, 'no, no, please, no, don't do it, no!'"

"And it was just so fast and he was in, you know, just like that," said the teen's mother, Melissa Smith.

The 16-year-old and his family had just hiked to the falls when a 9-year-old boy fell into the Merced River. The teen jumped over the railing, held onto a rock, and snagged the boy as he was going by in the swift rapids. Then Alec's dad came to help.

"When I reached him he reached me," Alec said. "He looked up at me, like with the craziest look in his eyes, like, 'just please help me.'"

"So then I look and I have not only my son but my husband out there as well," Melissa said. "So that was, you know, just terrifying."

The image above is the only photo the Smiths have of Alec and the boy he saved. It was taken just after the 9-year-old had finished telling Alec thank you.

Three people died last year after being swept away by the river's rapids and going over the 317-foot drop.

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san jose, yosemite, rescue, children, south bay news
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