As a family visited Lucia Falls in southern Washington on Sunday, they noticed people jumping off rocks into the river below.
So they took it as a lesson on what not to do, KPTV reported.
“I was telling my son that that’s how accidents happen, and here we end up being the accident,” said Robert Brown of Vancouver, Washington, The Columbian reported.
But then Michael Brown, 12, slipped on some rocks trying to cross the river upstream of the Clark County falls — and fell into the swift-flowing current, KGW reported.
“When I was going down I tried to grab on to some rocks but I couldn’t because it was covered in moss and algae and stuff,” Michael said, KPTV reported.
His father tried to reach Michael from the riverbank, but then the boy went under as he neared the rocky 15-foot Lucia Falls, The Columbian reported.
“Once he went underwater, I don’t think there was any question,” Robert said, KGW reported. “I had to go in and get him. I had to do whatever I could to go in and save him.”
But the swift current swept father and son over the falls before Robert could reach Michael, The Columbian reported. After they surfaced below the falls, Robert asked his son if he was all right.
“He said yes and then I looked down and blood was just dripping down into the water,” Robert said, KPTV reported.
Robert had suffered a gash to his face requiring 36 stitches along with a hairline fracture to his neck and other injuries, KGW reported.
“He didn’t even think twice, he just went in and saved our son — head-first over a waterfall,” said wife and mother Amy Brown, according to the station. “So I will look at those scars proudly knowing that I married the most amazing man.”
“He is my hero and he jumped in after me,” said Michael, who suffered only a bruised elbow, KPTV reported.
A GoFundMe account has been established to help pay the family’s medical bills.