He reached for a rock and the ground crumbled beneath his feet. In a flash, Daryl Johnson's 4-year-old was gone, tumbling roughly 230 feet down to the rocky bottom of a Northern California seaside cliff.
Johnson only had moments to act.
"That incident…was my worst nightmare," Johnson told KGO-TV on Tuesday. "I just threw everything off, my backpack, my hat, and just ran. I was ready to jump down myself and get him. I tried to find every access I could to get down there. I was trying to look for him, I couldn't see him."
But somehow, Sebastion Johnson survived the fall on Monday. Bodega Bay firefighters say the boy fell about 5 p.m. from a cliff at Sonoma Coast State Park.
The boy had a fractured skull, face and other broken bones and is now in a medically induced coma, KGO reported. The fall was roughly equivalent to the height of a 23-story building.
"He's very stubborn, a little fighter. And that's why I'm proud of him," his father told the TV station.
Carrying a rescue basket, two firefighter-paramedics rappelled off the cliff and reached the boy on the rocky beach.
"He wasn't really talking, but I said, 'If you like Spider-Man, superheroes, try to think of them,' just trying to keep him awake," firefighter Marco Barros told KGO.
The incident rattled some of the firefighters, who also have children, so a stress team was called in to talk about the rescue, Capt. Jason Downing of Bodega Bay Fire Protection District told The Times.
After rescuing the boy, Downing said he and other firefighters just "wanted to go home and hug our kids."