A man visiting Isla Vista from out of town this weekend thought he could jump from the roof of a three-story Cordoba Road apartment complex, clear a power line and land on the roof of a two-story building 15-20 feet away.
He proved himself right in spectacular fashion – to his friends as well as his rescuers.
San Diego Native Ben Larson, 20, had to be rescued Sunday evening after jumping from the roof of his friends’ apartment complex at 6588 Cordoba Rd. to the building behind it, 839 Embarcadero Del Norte.
Larson cleared the 15- to 20-foot gap by about five feet, flying over a power line between the buildings, and landed on the opposite roof but “busted his leg open” on impact, 21-year-old Brenden Orther, Larson’s best friend, said.
“He yelled ‘I fucking broke my leg,’ but we didn’t believe him,” Orther said. “Then he tried to move it and his foot was all turned to the side and his thigh was bent over. He yelled ‘you got to get me down.’ He took it like a champ though.”
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. Engine 17 arrived on the scene within three minutes after receiving the emergency call at 5:53 p.m. Paramedic Joe Bloom and his rescue team climbed the roof to determine the extent of Larson’s injuries, which they reported to rescuers on the ground as a broken femur.
The paramedics administered intravenous medication, strapped Larson to a rescue board and helped firefighters load him into a basket used for aerial rescues. They attached the basket to the 100-foot ladder of Station 11’s fire truck with cables and lowered him to the ground. He was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital at about 6:30 p.m.
“He’s really lucky he isn’t dead right now,” Captain Wes Herman of Engine 17 said. “If you look at that gap [between the buildings], it’s at least 15 feet.”
Larson was visiting with other friends from San Diego at the Cordoba apartment of Eric Badger, a 22-year-old Santa Barbara City College student, when he decided to climb onto the roof via a drainage pipe.
“I heard him up there spotting out the jump, then I heard the pounding of his feet on the roof as he took a running start,” Orther said.
Orther said this is not the first time Larson has risked his life for a thrill.
“This guy’s a fucking legend where we come from,” Orther said. “We call him ‘Benny Big Time’ because he does all kinds of crazy shit. He’s a really cool, chill guy, but we call him ‘Bendaco’ when he gets drunk because he’s like a different person.”
Dave Wells, 21, another one of Larson’s friends from San Diego who witnessed the leap, said he was planning to attempt the jump as well until Larson broke his leg.
“We do this crazy stuff all the time,” Wells said. “Even the cops were laughing at him.”
During the rescue, a crowd of approximately 30 people watched and laughed as paramedics and firefighters secured Larson to the basket. Several parents, who were in I.V. to drop off their children from a weekend at home for Easter and Passover, took pictures of the rescue to show friends at home.