Double Bluff fall prompts call for better warning

For a Langley resident, a climb up a bluff turned into a trip to the hospital.

For a Langley resident, a climb up a bluff turned into a trip to the hospital.

James Mattern was walking with his girlfriend, Tonya Schaffer, on the beach at Double Bluff Park recently when he noticed several men climbing up the bluff, so he decided to tackle the challenge.

Tonya said he almost made it to the top when a portion of the bluff gave way and the resulting avalanche caused him to tumble back down to the beach.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” Schaffer said of the avalanche, which seriously injured Mattern. The fall caused numerous injuries that included a fractured rib, three fractured vertebrae, a punctured lung and numerous bruises from head to toe.

She credited the young adults who helped get her boyfriend off the rocks at the park, stabilized him and stayed with him during the 45-minute wait for paramedics. She said if it wasn’t for their efforts, Matterns’ condition would have been worse.

Upon examining the area she was surprised to see there is a warning sign posted on the beach, but that it was facing toward the nearby homes and not facing where visitors park.

She also questioned the wording of the sign, which states, “Climbing bluff can cause serious injuries.”

“I’m very disturbed that there wasn’t a better warning,” Schaffer said about the sign.

She said she has contacted the county to see if the warning can be improved. She noted that she often sees children climbing up the bluff.

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