A Perth teenager who was rescued from the Stirling Ranges says he is lucky to be alive after a small tree saved him from tumbling off a 10m cliff.
Andrew Szabo, 14, was making his way down the 1052m Toolbrunup peak in the Stirling Ranges on Thursday afternoon when he slipped on a rock and went hurtling down the side of the mountain.
The teenager fell several metres, shattering his left kneecap, before rolling into a tree that was perched on the edge of a drop.
"The tree stopped me, if it wasn't for the tree I would probably be dead," Andrew said from his Princess Margaret Hospital bed yesterday.
"Each time I felt myself falling, I thought I would keep falling."
Andrew's two friends and their father, who is an experienced hiker, came to his aid and called emergency services.
His friends, aged 14 and 17, made their way back down the mountain while their father waited with Andrew for help.
Medics from an RAC rescue helicopter were winched down and administered painkillers before lifting Andrew to safety.
He was flown to Albany Regional Hospital before being transferred to Perth the following day.
Doctors are waiting for the swelling to subside before operating on Andrew's knee, which has shattered in seven places.
Andrew, who is in Year 9 at Mercy College in Koondoola, has a black belt in karate and said he was devastated to be missing out on the national championships next month. But he felt lucky to be alive and thanked the rescue team who came to his aid.
"I feel really lucky. Without them I'd be dead. What can I say about them, they saved my life," he said.
Andrew's mother, Theresa, said the accident could have been a lot worse.
She said he was extremely active and disciplined and she was confident he would make a full recovery."We want to thank the rescuers, we're lucky they got him out so quick and looked after him," Mrs Szabo said.
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