Life Flight called in to rescue fallen Red Cliffs hiker

ST. GEORGE — A 42-year-old Hurricane City resident was rescued Monday evening after rolling approximately 30 feet down a slope while he was out hiking with a friend near the Red Cliffs Recreation Area. The man sustained serious but not life-threating injuries and was taken by helicopter off a peak, flown down to an ambulance and driven to the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Just before 4 p.m. Monday, Washington County Search and Rescue teams were dispatched to the Red Cliffs Recreation Area on reports of a fallen hiker west of the area on a peak.  The Recreation Area is a paid campground nestled among a section of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve which hosts trails, canyons, peaks, as well as archeological and historical-cultural sites.

The 42-year-old fallen hiker had rolled approximately 30-feet down a sloping hill bouncing off rocks, bushes and trees before coming to a stop.

“It wasn’t a straight drop, just a pretty heavy slope,” said Deputy Darrell Cashin who manages Washington County Search and Rescue crews.

The hill was on a peak due west of the Red Cliffs Recreation Area. The man rolled, but thankfully stopped just short of another 60-foot straight drop-off, Cashin said.

Search and Rescue ground crews worked to get up to the hiker while a Life Flight helicopter tried to land near him. Life Flight was unable to land because they couldn’t find an area wide enough that was clear of vegetation, Cashin said, so the helicopter flew down to the incident command center near the recreation area.

Ground crews made it to the victim as Life Flight was returning from their first attempt. Then, Life Flight headed back towards the peak with ropes and rigging gear meant to assist ground crews in getting the man off the peak. By the time Life Flight had returned, ground crews had cleared vegetation enough for the helicopter to land, Cashin said. Life Flight was able to land and fly the man down to an awaiting ambulance which then transported him to the Dixie Regional Medical Center.

The man had sustained lacerations, bruises, and bumps and was experiencing chest pain and difficulty breathing. Although the injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening, Cashin said.

The man’s hiking partner, a 50-something-year-old man from Texas, was able to hike off the peak with Search and Rescue ground crews, Cashin said.

Search and rescue teams were clear of the area and had everything wrapped up by 8 p.m.

According to the hikers, they were hiking on the “rim” trail when the man slipped and fell, Cashin said.

Red Cliffs Reserve Administrator Bob Sandberg said that he had not been briefed yet on the incident but he’d never heard of the trail. He also added that there isn’t an official trail called the Rim trail in the reserve, although he agreed that it may just be an informal reference to a trail, or an informal trail.

Leeds Area Fire also assisted with the incident.

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