Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman's GoPro Captures Dramatic 50-Foot Fall Over Edge of Waterfall: 'God Protected Me'


A volleyball player miraculously survived after falling 50 feet over the edge of a waterfall while hiking in Hawaii — and the entire heart-stopping moment was captured on video.

Speaking on the podcast “In the World of Female Sports,” Heather Friesen shared her story and explained how what started as a horrific accident led to a renewed faith that God is watching over her.

Friesen was hiking with friends along the Ka’au Crater Trail in 2016 when the group approached the first waterfall on the route. Friesen tried to get a closer look at the falls, veering closer to the drop-off.

It was a near-fatal mistake that would change her life.

“I was up at the top just trying to look over the edge of the waterfall,” Friesen told “In the World of Female Sports.”

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“I got too close, and I ended up slipping and falling off the waterfall.”

She scrambled to grab one of the rocks at the top but she was falling too quickly to get a firm grip.

“I can still picture it in my head,” she recalled. “But it was too slippery so I kept falling.”

Friesen fell down the entire length of the ravine. Her GoPro, which was strapped to her head at the time, recorded the fall, showing water, brush and rocks rush past the hiker’s body, before she came to a thudding halt at the bottom.

Miraculously, the athlete survived.

With no head injuries, Friesen remained conscious for the entire ordeal.

“I could barely breathe, so that’s why I knew something was wrong because my left lung had collapsed,” she told Inside Edition. “It almost felt like my whole left side couldn’t move.”

Her friends rushed to help, worrying as they waited for the arrival of a rescue team to air-lift Friesen to the nearest hospital. Though she could stand, she could barely breathe, and the group didn’t think they would be able to carry her all the way back to the trailhead.

So they waited.

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“It never crossed my mind that I was going to die,” Friesen said, finding out afterward that her friends were afraid these might be her last moments with them.

Friesen said that a group of friends from her church happened to be on the same trail at that time, without having any idea that she was there. They stumbled upon Friesen and her friends while they were waiting for the helicopter and immediately started praying.

Even in the midst of the chaotic rescue, as she was airlifted out of the woods, the volleyball player was struck with an overwhelming sense of calm.

“I just remember looking up, and it was such a beautiful day out. I felt so much peace,” she said. “I just felt God’s presence in a crazy way that I’ve never felt before in my life.”

The accident left Friesen with ten broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a fractured shoulder blade — and something else she didn’t expect.


“My faith really grew from this accident,” she said. “And that was the game-changer. I couldn’t get through this without God as number one.”

The athlete realized that she had been depending too much on her career, her goals and her abilities as a competitor. Once she realized that all of those things can be taken away from her, she saw how important it was to keep her faith at the center of her life.

“There’s things that we want — success, fame and all that. I feel like that’s what I was searching for. Who doesn’t want to have success with what they’re doing? But I think that my eyes were focused on the wrong thing. I needed to be focused on what God wanted for my life,” she said.

“I should have died that day,” she told “In the World of Female Sports.”

“But I didn’t. He chose to save my life.”

Friesen went on to make a full recovery — and she still plays volleyball to this day.

While in recovery, she discovered that multiple people have died on the same falls and that her own survival truly was a miracle.

Now, she hopes her story will inspire others to live their faith and put God first.

“I really feel that God chose to save me that day to share my story and to share what He’s done in my life,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here without Him.”

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ