CEDAR CITY – Emergency crews used about 330 feet of rope Wednesday night to raise a 20-year-old man from a canyon after he injured his leg while hiking the riverbed.
Iron County Sheriff’s Ropes Teams and Search and Rescue crews were dispatched around 4:30 p.m. to milepost 9 on state Route 14 to reports of a male hiker who had possibly broken his leg.
The hiker, from Riverton, is a Southern Utah University student who was working on a summer project for the U.S. Forest Service with about six to eight other students, authorities said.
The group had hiked from Brian Head to Ashdown Gorge and was walking Rattlesnake Creek when the accident occurred.
“There isn’t a trail through there so you hike the riverbed,” said Iron County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Hoyt. “He was on a rock and when he stepped off it he misjudged the depth, and he said his leg just snapped when he stepped off the rock into the water.”
The extent of the man’s injuries was unknown.
“I’m not sure whether he broke it or if it was just a fracture,” Hoyt said.
The group was located about 2 miles into the canyon near Flanagan Arch at the time of the accident. Some of the members hiked out to get help while others remained behind using their emergency medical training to put the hiker’s leg in a splint and start carrying him out.
Hoyt, who was first on scene, hiked into the canyon about a mile and a half and met up with the group. He piggybacked the hiker the rest of the way.
On his way out of the slot canyon with the hiker, Hoyt said the forecast rainstorm started moving in. At that point, with flash flood warnings in effect, authorities were concerned.
“Our biggest worry was that it was going to start really storming and then flooding because once that creek starts rising it’s not going to take long before there’s a flash flood,” Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said. “We needed to hurry and get the students out of there before that happened.”
Once out of the canyon, the ropes team raised the hiker up about 300 feet from the canyon floor using a basket they had dropped down to him. He was transported to Cedar City Hospital via ambulance.
Emergency crews were on scene for four hours until around 8:30 p.m.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” Gower said. “They did an awesome job.”
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