This is not what I mean by, “Let’s hang out at Ravenna Park.” (UPDATES)

Last night, a little after 7PM, I visited the Seattle Fire Department’s Real-Time 911 site, as I am want to do (local neighborhood news editor, here). And the following incident caught my eye:

Screen capture of the "Rescue Rope" call from the Seattle Fire Real-Time 911 page (click to expand)

Fourteen units headed to 55th and Ravenna Ave NE for a “Rescue Rope” call? What is that?

Google Maps shows the address as Ravenna Park.

I hop onto Twitter to ask if anyone is in the park and knows what’s going on, and a few moments later, the following message and picture arrive via email (from Ravenna resident Thom):

On our way dinner at Piatti we walked by this young man dangling from the [20th] Ave bridge. His t-shirt became entangled in his gear and he got stuck about 1/2 way down. He didn’t have a knife to cut himself free (and neither did we.) My son James snapped this pic with his Windows Phone 7.

Picture courtesy Thom George (and son James)

Well, that explained both the “rescue” and the “rope,” didn’t it?

I heard back this morning from Seattle Fire Department Public Information Officer, Kyle Moore, about how the rest of the call went:

Hey, we got called off of this before we arrived. The call came in at 6:54 as a person stuck under the 20th Avenue bridge at Ravenna Park. The call came in as a person under the bridge suspended on a rope with their shirt caught on rope. The caller said the person was trapped 20 feet from the ground. Seattle Police responded for traffic. The person got himself down before our units arrive.

So the rappeller is down, safe and sound, and hopefully rethinking his hobby (or the practice location, at least).

As for the legality of this activity, I think we can all agree that rappelling off a bridge anywhere in Seattle is a big no-no. I have contacted both the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (update below) as well as the Seattle Police Department in regards to penalties for this type of activity, and will update this post if/when I receive more information.

UPDATES (Wednesday, September 7): Longtime Ravenna resident Bill wrote in to say:

That bridge has been a popular rappelling site for the 40+ years I’ve lived in Ravenna. On one occasion, about the mid 1970s, I watched from below the bridge, four or so guys taking turns dropping down, sometimes head first instead of feet first, showing off for the audience I guess. And probably their nerves were soothed from pot smoking, another favorite under-the-bridge activity back then. Hey, the risk takers are alive and well.

Seattle Parks and Recreation Communications Manager, Dewey Potter, had the following to say about this type of activity in (over?) city parks (via email):

Parks and Recreation, like other recreation agencies in Washington state, is protected by a “recreation immunity” statute that protects from liability public agencies that provide recreational space for the public and don’t charge a fee: While Parks and Recreation tries to accommodate and find spaces for new forms of recreation (recent examples are off-leash areas, skateparks, bike polo, dodgeball, and slacklining), we haven’t talked about rappelling thus far.

Some light at the bottom of the cliff, recreational rappelers? As for me, I’m not even going to think about trying this for myself unless I see Parks and Seattle Center Committee chair, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, do it first.


  1. Criminal Trespass and/or Reckless Endangerment would be my guess.


  1. […] This is not what I mean by, “Let’s hang out at Ravenna Park.” – There’s a long history of repelling off the bridge over Ravenna Park. And some people […]

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