ST. GEORGE — A 66-year-old man was transported to the hospital by ambulance after falling off a 30-foot cliff while hiking with his brother just west of state Route 18 in St. George Monday afternoon.
Both men were out canyoneering in the Cougar Cliffs area to the west of SR-18 near mile marker 6 shortly after 8 p.m. when one of the hikers lost his footing and slipped off the cliff’s edge and fell more than 30 feet before landing on a ledge.
Washington County Search and Rescue Liaison Darrell Cashin told St. George News the hiker’s brother was able to climb down to the ledge to check on him. The hiker then called for help, telling emergency dispatch that his brother had a possible arm fracture.
Police officers in St. George were first to arrive, and shortly thereafter, a search and rescue team was called in, along with a high-angle rope team that was quickly assembled and dispatched to the area.
The St. George Fire Department also sent a crew, along with emergency medical personnel from Gold Cross Ambulance. Once the group was assembled, they began the long trek in the direction of the injured hiker.
Ground rescue crews reached the hiker shortly after sunset. The man was still on the ledge and told the group that he believed he broke his arm during the fall.
Meanwhile, a technical high-angle rope team assembled and made preparations to rescue the hiker from the ledge. Once the ground crew was able to stabilize the arm, Cashin said, the hiker was placed in a harness with a rope rescue member, and together, the pair was raised to the top of the cliff.
Cashin said the rescue technique was safer than placing the man in a Stokes basket and raising him to the top, particularly since it was dark by the time they found him.
After reaching the top, the injured man told rescuers he could make the hike back out of the canyon, which he did “with a little assistance from the team,” Cashin said. After making it out of the canyon, he was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.
“He told us he could walk out — and he did,” Cashin said. “Which just goes to show that you never know what can happen out there.”
Cashin said that with some rescues, a hiker can fall just a few feet and sustain injuries so serious that they are unable to move at all, and yet this hiker fell more than 30 feet and “walked out pretty much on his own.”
He added the Washington County Search and Rescue teams have been called out to nine rescues in less than two weeks, “so we’ve been busy.” Cashin said the increase in rescues could be attributed to a higher number of people spending so much time sheltering in, and are now getting outside to enjoy the outdoors.
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