Boy who fell on Mount Hood, fracturing skull, plans to go back

PORTLAND, Ore. - The 10-year-old who survived a 150-foot tumble on Mount Hood last week says he's already preparing to go back.

Cole Hancock was well enough Wednesday to talk about what happened. He's recovering from three skull fractures and is working on his speech and is re-learning how to read a clock.

"When I upstairs I was alive, and I'm still alive. I'm alive and I still, I wanna be up there still," he said at Doernbecher Children's Hospital as he sat with his father, Kim.

The father and son were camping on Mount Hood near the White River West Sno-Park on Tuesday, July 23 when they hiked down to look at a waterfall. But Cole lost his footing and fell down an embankment and was knocked unconscious. His father climbed down to his son and was able to call 911.

It took rescue crews an hour to reach them.

Cole is still going through speech and physical therapies. He doesn't remember the fall or being flown out in a rescue helicopter.

"To hear him say he's hurting was pretty painful," said Kim. "This is the first time I've ever heard him say or even talk about the accident at all."

In the week since Cole's fall, Kim has thought a lot about the biggest struggle that night, talking rescuers into where they were while caring for his unconscious son who was struggling to survive.

"The reality of it is, is that help still is away. They're still not gonna be there in 15 minutes," Kim said.

He plans to get an automatic rescue beacon to carry on hikes and plans to leave a note with a hiking route in his car.

Both he and his son expect they'll go back to the mountain someday.

"It'll be tough, but I can't imagine not doing it," Kim said.

Kim did something for his son while he was recovering. Cole kept a piece of rock from that hike that was from the middle of a larger split rock. It was special because no one had touched it for a long, long time, if ever.

Without touching the rock, Kim said he carefully removed it from the pocket of the pants his son wore the night of the accident. It's waiting for Cole at home.

Doctors are hopeful Cole's young brain will recover most, if not all, of its normal functions. His family is hopeful he'll be able to enter the fifth-grade this fall.