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Marine Sgt. Cody Leifheit. Photo courtesy U.S. Marines press release

Ferndale Man Rescues Hanging Victim from Tree

Sgt. Cody Leifheit, a Marine recruiter in Lewiston, Idaho, via press release 500x.jpg
Marine Sgt. Cody Leifheit.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Reece Lodder.


Their screams woke him and after running down the street, the 28-year-old Marine found a cluster of silhouettes beneath a tree, desperate and terrified. Their 19-year-old friend was hanging from a branch 25 feet above them. 

This is beginning of an article recently published on the Official website of the United States Marines. The Marine mentioned is Marine Recruiter Cody Leifheit. Leifheit is a 2005 Ferndale High School graduate who has spent the last 8 years as a Marine.

Leifheit, as the article continues,

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ran home for [a knife] and sprinted back to the tree. The stocky Marine jumped up seven feet, grabbed a branch and “strong-armed” his way upward, recounted Austin Tow, [name withheld]’s roommate. Tow had scaled the tree in an attempt to save him.

The muscular Marine – once a football and wrestling star at Ferndale High School in his hometown of Ferndale, Washington – took action. He hugged the tree with his right arm and wrapped his left arm around [name withheld], relieving pressure on the rope so Tow could cut it and release the noose. Leifheit checked his pulse. Nothing. [name withheld] wasn’t breathing. He yelled for onlookers to call 911.

Using the tree as a makeshift backboard, Leifheit began performing chest compressions on [name withheld] from 25 feet off the ground. A few compressions in, [name withheld] began breathing. Twice more he lost and re-gained his heartbeat as Leifheit worked to bring him back.

First responders finally arrived. An emergency medical technician used a ladder to climb up to them. He checked [name withheld]’s pulse and presumed he was dead, but Leifheit disagreed. “No, he just had a heartbeat!” Adamant, he resumed chest compressions.

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The victim’s heartbeat and breathing were ultimately restored and he was transported to the hospital that he was then able to walk out of 4 days later.

Leifheit is quoted in the article, “We can mess up a lot of things in life where there are no immediate consequences. One thing you can never fail at twice is saving a person’s life.”

Ferndale High School Head Football Coach Jamie Plenkovich was not surprised to hear of Leifheit’s actions. He remembered a selfless Leifheit back in his high school days. Plenkovich explained, “After winning the 2005 state wrestling championship, Leifheit told me he would have rather to have won the state football championship because then he could celebrate with his team. In wrestling, it was just him winning.”




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