Utah man nearly loses a leg after parachute fails to fully deploy

Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 00:32:44-04

OGDEN, Utah -- An Ogden man bounced off the side of a cliff in Moab and nearly lost his leg in a botched BASE jump.

Ammon McNeely, 43, posted an update on his Facebook page, saying doctors have saved his leg, but he suffered a horrific ordeal and was prepared to wake up the next morning minus a foot.

The gruesome injury happened last week. Two of McNeely’s friends successfully BASE jumped off a Moab cliff, and McNeely was the last one to take the leap. Grand County investigators said his parachute didn't fully deploy. He bounced off the walls, slamming his left leg before landing on a ledge. After dealing with the injury, McNeely filmed himself and posted it on YouTube.

"Well that didn't go good," he said calmly in the video, which is available here along with a video of the accident.

Despite his relaxed demeanor, he suffered a gruesome compound fracture above his left foot.

"As you can see, I probably lost my leg," he said in the YouTube video.

McNeely hasn't responded to FOX 13 News’ phone calls but wrote in a Facebook post, "I knew I was banged up but to my utter surprise my foot was flipped on its side looking very similar to a Nalgene bottle with just a sliver of skin keeping it on...blood was squirting everywhere and I knew my only option was to somehow tourniquet it to stop the bleeding."

He tied webbing from his chute around his leg to stop the bleeding.

The incident is a shock for outdoor enthusiasts. According to online profiles, McNeely is a renowned rock climber and experienced BASE jumper, making many successful jumps at the Fisher Towers near Moab.  According to Wikipedia, he holds records for climbing El Capitan in Yosemite, where he was previously injured, according to statements in another YouTube video.

"I probably took six or seven falls a day,” he said.  “I dislocated my shoulder at one point from having it in the wrong spot at the wrong time."

However, it was nothing compared to the horror he faced a week ago in Moab. Fortunately, friends heard his cries.

"OK! The chopper's coming," McNeely said in the video.

A search and rescue team pulled the Ogden man off the ledge in 45 minutes.  McNeely said he lost 3 pints of blood, and the quick rescue likely saved his life.