Man Survives 1,000-Foot Fall Down Icy Mountainside
A man fell 1,000 feet down an ice chute in the San Gabriel Mountains and miraculously survived. On Jan. 23, Jason Lopez, 35, of Huntington Beach was hiking with his brother-in-law, Rob Wayman, on Timber Mountain in less than stellar conditions, according to the OC Register. It was cold, windy and icy. Lopez was attempting to move to frozen dirt, where it would be safer, but slipped on the ice when his trekking pole got caught and he turned to grab it.
For Wayman, it appeared that Lopez simply disappeared. In reality, he fell 1,000 feet down an ice chute. They were 8,000 feet up at the time, according to KTLA.
Wayman was able to get the attention of another hiker, who texted the San Bernardino County Communication Center to request a helicopter. Wayman eventually caught sight of Lopez in a bush, alive but covered in blood. When he reached him, he and the other hikers covered Lopez in jackets to protect him from the cold. Finally, rescuers were able to airlift Lopez via a helicopter and take him to a hospital.
There, doctors put Lopez in a medically induced coma for five days. When he awoke, he was unable to remember his own name or communicate. Three weeks later, however, he was released from the hospital.
The father of two sustained numerous injuries, including fractures to his skull, brain damage and a broken wrist. The skull fractures are narrow, and doctors predict they will heal on their own. Lopez still suffers from brain injury, occasionally have issues speaking and thinking, or blurry vision. His left eye is continually dilated.
"I'm very grateful to the people that were there helping and assisting Robert in locating me as well. Without them, I would not be here today," he told KTLA.
According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, Lopez's wife, Jackie, is taking an extended leave of absence to stay home with her husband as he recovers.
Other hikers haven't been so lucky. Three hikers have died this month while climbing Mt. Baldy. Officials are warning hikers to avoid these areas full of narrow trails and steep drop-offs, or wait until things warm up and the ice melts away.