The mom could see her son up the mountain crying — but couldn’t see her fiancé.
A nine-year-old boy was forced to climb down from a waterfall hike alone after his stepdad fell to his death.
Adrian Vanderklis, 40, was climbing near Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon in Utah with his fiancée’s son on Saturday, when he apparently slipped, according to Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies received a 911 call from the mother shortly after 7 PM reporting the missing pair; she said she could see her son, who was crying, but she could not see her fiance, and that she hadn’t seen him in “several hours.”
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By the time deputies arrived, the boy had made his way down the mountain on his own, uninjured.
UCSO Search and Rescue volunteers and a helicopter crew with the Utah Department of Public Safety began combing the area, and at 7:45 PM spotted Vanderklis about 1/3 of a mile west of Bridal Veil Falls on a very steep, near-vertical slope, at an elevation of about 5,800 feet.
“A team of SAR volunteers made their way to the victim and determined he apparently fell and did not survive his injuries,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Darkness set in, making the recovery of the body extremely dangerous, so rescuers were forced to call the effort off and leave the body there overnight.
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They resumed the recovery at 7 AM Sunday morning, shuttling to the location of the body and securing it before hoisting it off the cliff via helicopter. The remains were taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
“While it is unclear exactly why Mr. Vanderklis fell, it is possible he stumbled, or slipped on loose material,” USCO said. “Regardless, it appeared he was killed immediately as a result of the fall.”
They said that while the boy was with him at the time, he did not actually see Mr. Vanderklis fall.
“The Utah County Sheriff’s Office extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Vanderklis and his fiance and her family,” it added.
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