Trapped family rescued from raging waterfall, message in a bottle saved their lives


CALIFORNIA – A family trapped at the top of a waterfall were rescued after they wrote a message in a bottle and dropped it over the edge, they told their story on GMA.

Curtis Whitson was in the middle of what was supposed to be a four-day hike of California’s Arroyo Seco in June with his 13-year-old son Hunter and girlfriend Krystal Ramirez. They told GMA on day three things went terribly wrong.

“It was just the water level that caught us by surprise and we thought we had that under control by our timing. And our timing was just, was just not right,” Whitson said in an interview.

GMA reports that the group got trapped in an isolated section known as “The waterfall.” A rope and carabiners once fastened into the rocks to navigate down the perilous, raging waters were nowhere to be found.

Whitson said, “One bad step or one misjudgment in regards to that strength of that river and it could’ve just carried us right over the edge and that could’ve been it.”

So they got creative. Curtis carved “Get help!” on the outside of his lime-green Nalgene water bottle and quickly drafted up a note to put inside.

“The first thing on it was the date and then below it said, “Stuck at waterfall. Please send help!” Ramirez said in an interview.

Whitson screwed on the cap and tossed the bottle over the waterfall. Hoping someone downstream would notice the lime-green lifeline.

“I looked at hunter and said we’ve done all we can do. Now it’s just a matter of just waiting to see what happens next and wait for people to come – and they will come,” Whitson said.

They told GMA their hopes for rescue were quickly answered. Two hikers nearly a half-mile away found the bottle and notified a campground manager who alerted authorities.

Meanwhile, the stranded trio made their way a few yards upstream and fashioned an SOS sign out of rocks, hoping for any sign of a rescue.

They said at around midnight a search and rescue team found them and airlifted them one by one to safety.

Information from

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories

More Top Stories

Latest Videos

Don't Miss