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Kayaker injured going over Bridal Veil Falls

A 19-year-old Eugene man is in good condition after being injured while kayaking down a 120-foot waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.

Robert McKenzie sustained lower back injuries during the attempt to navigate Bridal Veil Falls at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26, said Lt. Mark Matsushima, spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

McKenzie was part of a group of four kayakers who took turns videoing their runs over the two-step waterfall at Bridal Veil State Park. Three others - including McKenzie's brother Benjamin McKenzie, 18, Althea Sullivan, 19, and a 17-year-old boy, all of Eugene - had already navigated the falls.

McKenzie's brother sustained a possible broken nose during his attempt, which took place just before his brother's. Sullivan also bruised her nose.

After it became apparent that McKenzie was significantly injured, they called his father, who is a retired doctor, who advised them to immediately call 9-1-1.

A total of 14 emergency responders, including deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Corbett Rural Fire District 14 and paramedics with AMR, rescued him. It took an hour to reach him in the steep and rugged terrain, Matsushima said.

McKenzie was transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center.

The four kayakers told responders that they considered themselves 'reasonably experienced' with about five years experience kayaking. They reportedly practiced at similar locations near Eugene without incident.

All four were wearing helmets and floatation vests, as is common in the sport.

'They also expressed regret that peer pressure may have played a part in the injury occurring,' Matsushima said.

Deputies are investigating whether the four violated any state park rules, specifically whether the falls is designated closed to kayakers due to the extreme hazard the activity poses.