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Mother of child rescued from Badlands ravine tells story

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Badlands National Park

A 10-year-old boy who fell into a ravine Tuesday morning at Badlands National Park and had to be rescued is doing well, despite his broken forearm, his mother said.

“It’s the first broken bone in our family,” said Gabrielle Pollard, the boy’s mother. “He’s doing great. He’s back to his old self. He just has to be a little more careful.”

The Pollard family are visiting Badlands National Park from Illinois. They arrived Monday night for their first trip to the area.

On Tuesday morning, two of Pollard’s children were exploring the hills and rock formations near the family’s campsite. Pollard said she could see the children from the campsite, but the boy got separated from the other children.

“He decided to climb up and try to rejoin the group and he slipped and fell probably about eight to 10 feet. That's what they were estimating,” Pollard said.

The other children knew the boy had been separated from the group and were waiting for him when they heard him scream.

“None of us saw him fall. We didn't know exactly where he was, so we had to find him, and then once we located him, we called 911,” Pollard said.

It didn’t take long for first responders to arrive and get down to the boy, but the process of safely getting him out of the ravine took two hours.

“There was a lot of teamwork. All the rescue people were working together, trying to figure out the best way to get him out of there safely,” Pollard said.

The Pennington County Search and Rescue team used a rope and basket to get the boy out. Pollard said responders discussed the option of using a helicopter but settled on the rope as the best way to bring the 10-year-old to safety.

The scare didn’t end the trip for the family, though. When the Journal talked to Pollard on Thursday afternoon, the family was driving through the park. They plan to stay until the weekend.

“Accidents happen. Unless he needed immediate medical attention that we couldn't get down here, we were gonna stay,” Pollard said.

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office put out a statement on Wednesday saying two children were rescued from the ravine after two hours. Pollard said it was just her son who was rescued, and her daughter was not trapped in the ravine. 

Helene Duhamel, spokesperson with the PCSO, was unable to obtain a detailed report of the incident. She said it appears the mix-up originated from some sort of misunderstanding.

— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at sgee@rapidcityjournal.com — 

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