by Rob Malcolm

COLFAX (CBS13) – Cal Fire firefighters from Colfax and California Highway Patrol have a warning for teenage thrill-seekers after a girl was injured after jumping from the Ponderosa Bridge.

“It’s going a little too far when people are jumping from 50 or 60-foot bridges into an unknown depth of water. It’s a very dangerous thing to do,” said Cal Fire engineer Forrest Roweell.

According to Cal Fire, the 17-year-old girl suffered moderate back injuries after jumping from the bridge located at the North Fork of the American River. Cal Fire firefighters from Colfax were joined by Auburn stations of State Parks, the Foresthill Fire Protection District and a CHP helicopter.

Because of the location deep in a canyon and a rough winding road going in and out, the teen faced further injury and was airlifted to the Sutter Roseville Medical Center as an ambulance would have taken too long.

Officer Jared Boothe with the CHP Valley Air Division says the helicopter was the only option.

“For the fire department and rescue personnel to carry you up and out of that trail could be a very laborious task,” said Boothe.

Despite news of the rescue, teenagers were still jumping from the bridge Tuesday evening.

“I mean sometimes in life you have to face your fears,” said Zachary Gephart. “I’m surprised the girl got injured. The water’s pretty deep and it feels good.”

While clearly marked as a “no jumping zone,” exploits are regularly filmed and posted to social media.

Some online video posts celebrate dives off the bridge with tags like “Sickest Ponderosa Bridge Jump,” “Epic 50-Foot Bridge Jump” and “Ponderosa Bridge Back Flip.”

Roweell says the girl injured on Saturday is lucky to be alive, noting that the waters vary in depth and move swiftly.

“It could have been a lot worse we are just thankful that she’s okay,” he said.

The rescue operations are taxpayer-funded through the DMV.

“Here at Placer County, we don’t charge for that. It’s a service the taxpayers already pay for,” Roweell said.

The Ponderosa Bridge is just one of several spots popular with teens, rescuers say.

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