Boy Survives Fall Into Hawaiian Steam Vent

A California teen had a close call in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park last week when he fell 25 feet into a steam vent.

According to a park statement, the young man—who was not named—jumped over protective railing around a steam vent between the Kīlauea Visitor Center and the newly reopened Volcano House.

The boy's mother called 911, and the park's search and rescue team and county fire crews rushed to help. Park SAR coordinator John Broward rappelled into the chimney-like opening to reach the victim who had just a bump on his head and minor abrasions. After an examination by County of Hawai'i responders at the scene, the boy was released. 

Steam vents are created when rain water meets hot rock as it seeps into the ground. The water turns into vapor, rises out of the ground through cracks and condenses in the cooler surrounding air. A sign next to the steam vent warns of the potential danger: Vapor temperature just four feet down is 160 degrees. At the surface, it cools to 120 degrees.

"This young visitor and his family are extraordinarily lucky that he survived this mishap," said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando in a press release. "This incident serves as a reminder that park visitors are urged to stay on trails and not engage in reckless behavior while visiting their national parks."

Accidents such as this one endanger not just visitors, but also the park staff and the other responders who must rescue them, Orlando added. This accident is the seventh search-and-rescue mission in the park this year. SAR crews responded to a total of 26 incidents in 2012.

Via National Parks Traveler and SFGate.