UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A Salt Lake City dog is lucky to be alive after falling 40 feet down a waterfall in Utah County over the weekend.
The dog was trapped for nearly eight hours as hikers and Utah County Search and Rescue worked to save him.
On Monday, 4-year old Husky Pit Bull rescue Beeroo walked around the Utah County Sheriff's Office, greeting deputies and looking for treats. His slight limp was the only visible sign of his near death experience.
Beeroo and his humans went hiking up to Stewart Falls on Saturday afternoon. Once the group reached the falls, they ventured up a large snow deposit covering the normally exposed lower part of the falls.
Sergeant Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff's Office said an avalanche recently left the deposit of snow, and it's about 40 feet deep. The snow melted underneath, the sheriff's office said, creating a large snow cave in front of the lower part of the falls.
James Bobb, who hiked up separately from Beeroo's group, said he saw Beeroo as he sat to enjoy the view and take pictures.
"He walks up, comes back down, goes up, falls down — he was gone," Bobb said. He said he called out to the dog's owners and yelled that the dog fell in a hole.
Yichu Su, one of Beeroo's two owners, said she couldn't believe it. They tried looking through the hole, but couldn't hear or see the dog.
They feared he didn't survive the fall.
"It's so deep, and we cannot see it. And then my friend told me, 'He's dead,'" Su recalled. Other hiking groups began trying to get to Beeroo and calling 911.
Utah County Search and Rescue arrived, and bystanders say they pitched in to help Search and Rescue dig a tunnel.
"Everybody started digging, digging, switching off — just trying to do whatever we could to get the dog out," said Matt Mendonsa.
Brent Johnson with Utah County Search and Rescue said he dug through four feet of snow, but the tunnel wasn't safe enough to perform the rescue through.
However, it did allow him to spot Beeroo — and confirm the pup was alive and trapped in the bottom of the ice cave.
They dug another tunnel further down the deposit, through seven feet of snow. Johnson said the team created a ropes system, and he repelled 40 feet down into the bottom of the cave.
Once he touched the ground, he said he found Beeroo curled up and cold. The dog had spent close to eight hours in two to three inches of water near the falls.
"He perked his head up, and he was obviously shaken and scared," Johnson said. In less than five minutes, they hoisted the dog out.
Beeroo was soon brought back down to Su, and their emotional reunion was captured in a video.
In the video, Su yells, "Beeroo!" as she ecstatically runs up to her dog to embrace him, letting out cries of relief.
She then runs around to each SAR person to thank them.
"I'm just like, 'Oh my God! He's alive!'" She recounted. "I just cannot believe it!"
Beeroo is back home and Su said a vet found he only suffered soft tissue damage — hence the limp.
She said she wasn't aware of the avalanche danger the day she hiked up to Stewart Falls and didn't realize she had been walking on an avalanche deposit when Beeroo fell through the snow.
The Utah County Sheriff's Office said when going into the back-country, it's important to check avalanche conditions. They recommended not walking up the lower part of the falls.