UINTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A 52-year-old Utah man was flown to a Colorado hospital Saturday after falling and getting stuck on a cliff near Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery in Uintah County.
According to officials with the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office took five hours to rescue the climber. The operation started when a group of nearby campers heard someone calling for help. One of the campers is a member of the Wasatch County Sheriff’s search and rescue team.
The group of campers tell officials they worked to find the person calling for help but say the echoes off the cliff walls made it impossible to pinpoint the climber’s location.
The group called Central Dispatch around 1:40 p.m. with reports of what was happening. The Uintah County Sheriff’s search and rescue team was mobilized and asked for help from helicopter crews with the Utah Department of Public Safety and Classic Air Medical.
Officials say Classic Air Medical crew arrived first. They were able to spot the injured man on the cliff, but couldn’t reach him due to the steep terrain. A camera-equipped drone launched by Uintah County search and rescue was able to pinpoint the man’s location on the cliff, officials add.
DPS helicopter crews were able to reach the man and hoist him off the cliff.
The 52-year-old climber told rescuers he remembered starting the climb up a slot in the cliff earlier Saturday morning, making it about three-quarters of the way up before he fell an unknown distance.
He said when he fell he hit his head and lost consciousness. He told police he didn’t know how long he was unconscious for, when he came to he started calling for help.
“The area he was climbing in is out of the way. You wouldn’t really expect someone to be climbing there,” Cheshire said. “If it hadn’t been for the camping group with a Wasatch County search and rescue member who heard this guy yelling and screaming, it’s unlikely anyone would have found him.”
Uintah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dustin Cheshire says in addition to a suspected head injury, the climber also suffered injuries to his lower extremities, preventing him from using his legs.
The man was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. “Without the helicopters, we might still be working with ropes to get him down off the cliff,” Cheshire said.
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