A slippery lip got the better of a college wrestler Sunday who fell from a Fossil Creek waterfall and broke his femur.
The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student from Prescott was jumping into a pool from a lower waterfall with several other friends when he slipped and landed on a ledge instead of a deeper pool.
The impact likely broke the man’s femur, said Tonto Rim Search and Rescue Commander Bill Pitterle.
Being a busy holiday weekend and the remote, rocky location of the accident, it took rescuers some time to reach the man, and several more hours to carry him out.
All the while, the man endured excruciating pain, at one time biting down on a stick for relief.
“It is really a painful injury,” Pitterle said.
Seven search and rescue volunteers, two Pine-Strawberry firefighters and three of the man’s friends helped carry the 250-pound wrestler out on a stretcher. The rough terrain made for a rocky ride, despite rescuers’ best efforts to keep the stretcher steady.
“Parts of the trail are so rocky that no matter how careful you are it is a painful trip,” Pitterle said. “And he let us know it hurt.”
Several times, an intravenous line snagged on a branch and yanked on the man’s arm, said TRSAR member Morris Brown.
Roughly four hours after getting the call, rescuers got the man to the road where an ambulance drove him out of the canyon and a helicopter airlifted him to a hospital.
As volunteers worked on this mission, they heard a steady stream of calls over the radio for other people in distress.
The Gila County Mounted Posse helped on some of those dehydration calls, while some people managed to get themselves out without assistance, Pitterle said.