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St. Helens teen falls 20 feet from rooftop

13-year-old boy seriously injured trying to jump rooftop to rooftop in Old Town

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - A St. Helens teen fell more than 20 feet after trying to jump across this six-foot gap from the rooftop Friday afternoon, Oct. 14. The boy was transported to a Portland area trauma hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries.A St. Helens teen is “lucky to be alive” after he fell more than 20 feet from a rooftop in the Old Town neighborhood on Friday, Oct. 14, around noon, according to police.

A 13-year-old boy fell from the rooftop of a two-story building while trying to jump from rooftop to rooftop with another 12-year-old boy. The names of children were not reported by the St. Helens Police Department.

St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said the two boys had climbed onto a building along 1st Street in St. Helens where Bemis Printing and Graphics is located, using a back alley to scale up the building. The boys were walking around the rooftop when they tried to run and jump across a six-foot-wide gap between that building and one adjacent to it.

One of the boys misjudged the distance and fell more than 20 feet, landing on the concrete in the alleyway. As the boy fell, he hit a window and broke some of the glass before landing on his side, Moss explained.

The St. Helens School District was not in session on Friday. Moss said it is unclear why the two boys thought climbing on the roof would be a good idea, adding that if you “kind of do the math,” the teens were likely bored on a Friday afternoon and decided to climb on top of the building.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue crews responded to the scene and transported the boy to a Portland area trauma hospital for treatment of serious, non-life threatening injuries. Lifeflight was called to transport the teen, but had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

“That young man is lucky to be alive,” Moss said. “That’s a long fall and it could’ve ended much worse.”

CRFR Division Chief Ian O’Connor said the boy was found alone after he had fallen, but O’Connor said he found “it hard to believe that he was by himself.”

Business owners in the area have complained over the years about people climbing on the roof, which is trespassing, Moss explained.

In 2015, during Spirit of Halloweentown activities when thousands packed into the Columbia Courthouse Plaza to see actress Kimberly Brown, Moss said multiple people scurried onto the same rooftop to get a view over the crowds.

Calls to the police department often come when people are on the buildings late at night, but Friday’s call in the middle of the afternoon was odd, Moss said.

It is unclear if the two children will be charged, Moss said, but the police case will be forwarded to the juvenile court for processing.

“Certainly they were trespassing, but given what happened I don’t know if it’s the right course of action in this case,” Moss said.