Alta High student survives fall off a cliff

Posted at 10:14 PM, Oct 22, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY -- Elijah Glissmeyer knows that he's lucky to be alive.

He survived a fall off a cliffside at Lake Powell over the weekend, free-falling about 60 feet before landing on his feet. His family and friends say it is a miracle he didn't die.

Glissmeyer, 16, said he was hiking with friends when he decided to take a shortcut off the hiking path.

"I started crawling down, kinda crabwalked and I just started slipping," he said in an interview with FOX 13 on Monday from his hospital bed. "I lost my grip and I just started sliding."

Glissmeyer said he slid about 150 yards down the redrock cliffside, then went into a freefall.

"I'm trying to stop myself and the whole time I'm thinking, 'I'm going to die,'" he recalled. "It was the scariest thing in my life. Then I free-fell like 60 feet."

Glissmeyer landed on his feet in the sand, breaking his arm, hips, his orbital bone and his nose. His body is covered in scrapes from the fall. Glissmeyer told FOX 13 he thought he was going to die there.

"I was so scared," he said. "I thought that that was the end. Like, this is it."

His friends also thought he was dead, until they heard him screaming.

"We saw him slip and slide down the whole thing," said Jacob Martin. "We saw him fall and land and we all just knew he was in trouble and we all just started running."

Martin said he thought Glissmeyer had been paralyzed. A nurse at a nearby campsite helped the teens until paramedics arrived. Glissmeyer was flown by helicopter to a St. George hospital, then transported to Primary Children's Medical Center.

In his hospital room, the walls are covered with signs wishing him a speedy recover. Glissmeyer plays both football and basketball at Alta High School.

"He's in good spirits, and to get to see him and realize what could have happened, it's a good thing," said Alta High School Football Coach Bob Stephens.

Glissmeyer said he's very appreciative of the well-wishes. He tells FOX 13 his near-death experience has sunk in.

"It's definitely sunk in," he said. "I always think about it, especially when I'm about to go to bed this past couple of days. I lived for a reason. Hopefully, there's bigger, better things to do in the future."