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Cliffhanger for Teen and His Dog

We’re taught from grade school not to litter, but one LA-area man learned his lesson in a particularly dramatic episode on the afternoon of Thursday, December 29. Hiking the ridges of Lakeview Terrace, Ivan Salas’s father threw a water bottle over the edge of the 300-foot sheer cliff beside them. Lola, their one-year-old German Shepherd mix, sprang after the bottle, lost her balance and slid over 100 feet down.

Seeing her stranded on the unstable rockface, 19-year-old Ivan Salas heroically attempted to scale down and rescue his dog, becoming trapped himself. Firefighters, responding to both police and 911 calls, initially began a rescue effort by helicopter, but the draft kicked up rocks and dust, increasing the risk of a fatal slide.

Rescuers regrouped. Several firefighters rappelled down the cliffside, first securing terrified Lola and bringing her to safety, then getting a hold of Salas, just as the rocks give out below his feet. Salas, who thought he was going to die as he slid quickly in loose gravel, is grateful and intends to take the firefighters to dinner to thank them for their efforts. As for Lola, she is surely lucky to have a guardian willing to risk his own life to save hers. Would you have ventured down the cliff like Ivan did?

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Elizabeth Kennedy is a freelance writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. elizabethkennedy.org

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