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Salt Lake search team saves hiker after he falls 100 feet down Utah waterfall, calls 911

Four members rappelled down to start providing medical care and others built rope systems to lower the patient to the ground


Photo/Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

Don Sweeney
The Charlotte Observer

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — When Owen Smith saw rescuers approaching after he plunged 100 feet down a waterfall in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Utah 21-year-old had one thought.

“I was like oh my god, I’m actually going to get help,” Smith, who suffered a broken femur and pelvis, along with three broken ribs and a punctured lung, told KUTV. “I’m not going to die out here.”

The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team found Smith at night after he fell into a pool about halfway up Lisa Falls in the canyon east of Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 7, a news release said.

Smith told KUTV he slipped and fell while reaching for his dropped phone on a solo hike at sunset that “did not turn out exactly how I wanted it.”

“When I lost my footing and I saw just how far I was falling, it was just, ‘oh crap, this is probably the end of it,’” Smith told the station. But he held onto his phone and called 911, then spent an anxious two hours awaiting rescue.

Four rescuers rappelled down the falls to Smith to provide medical care and prepare him for rescue, the release said.

Others built rope systems to lower Smith and two rescuers the rest of the way down the waterfall to the ground, searchers said.

Medics treated Smith’s injuries at the base of the falls and an ambulance took him to a hospital, the release said. The rescue lasted until 12:30 a.m.

“We have a long road of recovery and physical therapy ahead,” a GoFundMe established to help pay medical bills said, adding that Smith was “very fortunate.”


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