Jordan Holgerson, 16, said she had never jumped from the bridge at Moulton Falls Regional Park, and after being pushed off its edge and injured as a result, she doesn’t plan to anytime in the future.
“I just, you know, don’t suggest going up to a 60-foot bridge. Don’t climb up there,” Holgerson said during a press conference at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center on Thursday afternoon.
Holgerson is recovering at the hospital surrounded by friends and family.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said its deputies are investigating the incident.
Holgerson was advised by the sheriff’s office to decline answering specific questions about the fall, such as who she was with at the time or identifying the person who pushed her, as it may compromise the investigation and have legal ramifications.
Clark County Fire District 13 Chief Sean Ford told The Columbian on Wednesday that ambulance crews responded to Moulton Falls park around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. Kids were horsing around and jumping off the bridge, and a girl, later identified as Holgerson, was injured.
A 10-second video circulating on Facebook shows the girl standing on the bridge, outside of the railing, apparently hesitating to jump. Someone pushes her, sending her into the water below.
The video went viral, and international media has picked up Holgerson’s story. The girl said she doesn’t like the attention. Her phone is constantly buzzing with notifications; she’s received about 500 follow requests on her Instagram account.
In the air, Holgerson tried to correct the position of her body so she’d submerge into the water toes first rather than flat, facing downward. That didn’t happen. She belly-flopped, absorbing most of the impact on her right side.
Holgerson said she thinks she may have fainted while she was in free fall, but when she hit the water she was awake and aware.
When she was underwater, she was focusing how to survive.
“Well, I couldn’t breathe, so that’s all I was really thinking about,” she said.
Holgerson broke five ribs in the fall. She has air bubbles in her chest. Both of her lungs were punctured, either from the pressure of the fall or the impact, traumatic care surgeon MaryClare Sarff said.
“I could have died,” Holgerson said, a statement echoed by the surgeon.
Holgerson arrived at the hospital for a trauma alert, said Sarff. A team of medical professions was told the girl was pushed and fell a long distance, and that’s it. An evaluation determined injuries consistent with those scant details, but it could have been much worse. Jumping into water from great heights, even intentionally, can often result in a broken neck and paralysis, the surgeon said.
Doctors often discuss a “lethal dose” of height from a fall, Sarff said. It’s possible to die from a fall three times your height; hitting the water from as high as Holgerson did can feel like concrete, she said.
Holgerson will remain in the hospital until her pain reaches a manageable level, Sarff said. She is young and healthy, so she should heal quickly, but getting back to normal could take months. It could take up to a half-year until her ribs fully heal.
Sitting in a combination recliner and wheelchair, Holgerson said there should be more signs on the bridge warning people not to jump. She admitted she saw the single posted sign, but decided to try anyway.
The webpage for the park says, “Please, no diving off the bridge.”
She recommended people stick to recreating on the cliffs at the park.
“If it’s that high, make sure you know what you’re doing. There are consequences.”