Heather Friesen was peering over the side of a Hawaii waterfall when she went just a little too far, slipped on a wet spot, and fell more than 50 feet—and the GoPro camera strapped to her head was recording the whole time. The resulting video is difficult to watch, as the 26-year-old's body bounced off almost every rock she encountered on her way to the water below, where she can be heard moaning in pain as she remained submerged for almost 20 seconds. But the story has a happy ending: Two hikers found her, and one of them was friends with a member of an air evacuation crew. He let the crew know their specific location, and Friesen was quickly airlifted to a hospital. She survived, despite suffering a collapsed lung, fractured scapula, and 10 broken ribs.
"It's kind of like that whole cliche, 'time slows down as you're falling,' kind of thing," she tells Good Morning America in a new segment on the incident, which the New York Post notes happened in 2016 at the Ka’au Crater Trail. (The video was only recently released, and Friesen recently discussed the experience on this podcast.) She says that as she fell, she somehow knew her life wasn't in danger and was more worried about the reactions of her friends and family who saw her fall. As she struggled in the water and eventually got her head above the surface, she says, "I remember my vision getting a little blurry, but I just kept telling myself to keep trying to take deep breaths." She adds to Inside Edition, "God really protected me that day." 7 News notes Friesen, who was a University of Hawaii student when she fell, is back to playing beach volleyball these days. (Read more Hawaii stories.)