WEST PARIS — The mother of the 15-year-old boy who jumped off Snow Falls into the water below and had to be rescued Wednesday evening, July 26, said her son is up and walking and in good spirits.
Sonya Martin of Oxford confirmed her son, Kaleb Martin, was the teen who was rescued by members of West Paris, South Paris and Woodstock fire departments, Oxford Fire Rescue, PACE Ambulance and Tri-Town Rescue at the popular rest area on Route 26 in West Paris.
The call came in at 7:05 p.m. and the teen was rescued about 45 minutes later, West Paris Fire Chief Troy Billings said.
“We utilized ropes to get him out. We had a lengthy carryout,” Billings said.
Martin said Kaleb and his two friends were ledge jumping all day Wednesday in the area, including Frenchman’s Hole in Bethel. On their way home, they asked if they could ledge jump at Snow Falls. Martin said she drove the boys, who all did jump at Snow Falls, but did not jump herself.
“Then Kaleb my fearless daredevil said he wanted to go higher,” she said, adding his friends told him not to jump. “Even before I could say anything, I looked up and he was already in the air – he jumped. … My heart stopped seeing him in the air.”
Kaleb knew there was a rock in the water below, but thought he could scale it, according to his mom.
“I heard him hit the water. When he comes up I heard him make a noise … but then he started screaming, ‘Guys I need you down here now! I can’t breathe. I can’t move,’” Martin recalled. “He said he felt paralyzed for a minute or two and his heart hurt to breathe. … I could see his legs moving but he was still in the water and he couldn’t come out of the water.”
She said her son landed on his tailbone and left butt cheek.
Martin then called rescue. But before any first responders on duty arrived, along came a first responder from West Paris in his kayak who had not heard the call to help with the situation, she said.
She also commended a Good Samaritan who stopped to talk to the boys and Martin during the rescue.
“She helped me through,” Martin said. “She was a god send or something.”
Then rescue arrived.
“They got him on the backboard and on the kayak and his buddies along each end of the kayak brought him across,” she said. “His buddies never left him.”
He was transported to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway and then to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. A CT scan in Norway revealed he had a fracture in his T12 thoracic vertebrae but there is nothing to be done about it except let it heal, Martin said.
“It has been a long night,” she said.
Billings recalled a similar rescue call about 10 years ago when a male fell off the bridge. Paris Deputy Chief Jon Longley said via email at the time, Tri-Town Rescue had search and rescue team whose members were well trained in ropes rescue. That team has since dissolved.
“As I recall the gentleman patient was fishing from the ledge with another senior friend when he became dizzy and plummeted to the ledge leading into the water,” Longley wrote. “He landed on his head and received injuries that were life threatening.”
Billings said the man lived.
Billings commended everyone who participated in the recent rescue effort.
“Everybody did a great job – great teamwork by all the departments involved,” Billings said.
Early Thursday afternoon, July 27, Martin and Kaleb were waiting for X-rays to be done on his neck at the Portland hospital. She did not think the neck issue was from Wednesday’s jump, but from an injury he received earlier this summer at a trampoline park.
Even so, things are good with her son, even if “his butt is going to hurt for a while.”
“He’s cracking jokes,” Martin said. “He is in good spirits. He just wants that damn neck brace off.”
So will she allow her son continue to jump off ledges?
“Evidently I am not going to stop him,” she said, laughing. “[I told him,] ‘I am not talking you jumping.’”