What started as a few hours of free time to check out a Cascade Falls landmark, ended in a near death experience for one UFV student.
Cole Nutma says he’s lucky to be alive after he fell into a pool of water above the iconic waterfall on March 31. He used a last-ditch effort of strength and adrenaline to pull himself out of the pool just before he cascaded to a sure death almost 100 feet below.
The physical geography student is from Terrace and was snapping some photos of the area as part of a personal project when he decided to hike above the waterfall.
But fresh rainfall from the day before softened the ground and Nutma lost his footing, falling into the pool and getting swept up in the undercurrent.
“I’d be up there four or five times prior as I was taking photos of each season,” Nutma explained. “I was walking towards the edge and as I took a step forward everything just gave way and I had nothing to grab or hold on to.”
Nutma says his back was immediately pinned up against the rock wall and was stuck in the pool for several minutes before he regained his composure and began searching for a way out.
“I got my head up and I was able to do a 180 and hold my head above water,” he said. “It beat me up pretty good. At this point I was just screaming and trying to phone people but my phone was completely waterlogged.”
Once he settled down, almost resigned to his fate, he found a way to lift his body out of the undercurrent and jump out of the water. He was able to flag the attention of a family of three and a pair of women who helped him dry off with blankets and hot coffee. Nutma went to Mission Hospital but suffered only minor injuries, mostly to his tailbone.
He said he was whisked away from the group who helped save him when he went to the ambulance and is looking to get in touch with the group so he can properly thank them.
“I never had the opportunity to say thank you to the people who helped,” he said. “I really need to thank them.”
Nutma also wants to warn others about taking into account things like the weather and time of day when they hike in the springtime.