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Calgary man recounts ‘miraculous’ 40-metre tumble down B.C. waterfall

‘Luckiest guy in 2018’ survives miraculous fall down waterfall
WATCH: Belal Ajami says he has a whole new perspective on life after falling around 40 metres down a B.C. waterfall and walking away uninjured. As Blake Lough reports, rescuers say the fall should have killed him.

A 25-year-old Calgary man says he has a new perspective on life after surviving a remarkable 40-metre plunge down a waterfall north of Kelowna, B.C., on Sunday.

Belal Ajami flew to Kelowna to go camping and hiking with friends in Fintry Provincial Park over the long weekend.

Ajami said he and his group of friends made their way to the end of a trail at the top of Fintry Falls and he stepped over the fence to capture a picture of the view on his phone.

Belal Ajami poses at Fintry Falls north of Kelowna, B.C. He would go on to survive a 40-metre plunge down the falls.
Belal Ajami poses at Fintry Falls north of Kelowna, B.C. He would go on to survive a 40-metre plunge down the falls. Submitted: Belal Ajami

“There were a lot of people other than us swimming, so we thought we can go down there swimming or whatever,” Ajami said.

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“I was taking a picture. Everyone was taking pictures. My phone fell.”

Looking to retrieve his cell phone, Ajami walked closer to the water’s edge above the falls. He eventually found the phone, but as he was about to return to the path, he said he slipped on the rocks and fell into the water.

READ MORE: Perfect photo not worth the risk after north Okanagan tourist tumbles over waterfall — Vernon Search and Rescue

“I tried to hold onto rocks but I couldn’t. … I was like ‘no, no, no, no!’ I gave up and was like, ‘I’m dying.’ Luckily, a miracle happened.”

Ajami plummeted approximately 40 to 45 metres, hitting his back on rocks on the way down.

“I closed my eyes. I woke up in the water at the bottom. … I saw a dry spot, a big rock. I pulled myself with my right hand, flipped to my back and I said, ‘I’m okay.’”

Meanwhile, Bassam Damerji watched as his friend fell into the water and quickly ran back down the trail to try and find him below.

“I started screaming, ‘My friend is gone!’” Damerji recalled.

“I managed to call his cell phone and amazingly his cell phone was still working. So I get to talk to him, find out that his shoulder was a little bit hurt, his back hurt but there’s nothing else hurt. It was a miracle.”

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Apart from some sore muscles and a scratch on his back, Belal Ajami survived the fall virtually uninjured.
Apart from some sore muscles and a scratch on his back, Belal Ajami survived the fall virtually uninjured. Blake Lough / Global News

North Westside Fire Department, Kelowna Fire Department, BC Ambulance Service, and Vernon Search and Rescue all responded and worked together to extricate Ajami from his position below the falls.

According to Ajami, many of the rescuers who responded couldn’t believe he walked away with little more than a couple scratches.

Ajami poses with two of his rescuers in front of Fintry Falls. He said many couldn’t believe he survived the fall.
Ajami poses with two of his rescuers in front of Fintry Falls. He said many couldn’t believe he survived the fall. Submitted: Belal Ajami

“He literally fell about 130 feet and it’s a vertical fall. He shouldn’t have survived but he survived with really no injuries,” search manager Leigh Pearson said Monday.

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Pearson added that the situation could have been much different and that boundaries should be respected.

“The problem that a lot of people don’t understand is because it’s near a waterfall, the rocks around them are usually wet and wet rocks are very slippery,” he said.

“The subjects have to literally climb over the fences to get to where they can fall and fences are there for a reason. [Sunday’s] incident kind of reinforces that.”

READ MORE: How two Canadians survived near death in a cave on Vancouver Island

Ajami has already bought a lottery ticket, and is flying to Vegas with Damerji on Wednesday to see how far his luck will take him.

“Maybe we’re coming back millionaires,” Damerji said. “Who knows? He’s the luckiest guy and my best friend so we’re going to do something good.”

“Now it’s just a memory. I’m going to laugh about it and that’s it,” Ajami said.

“It’s a great story, right?”