Woman survives 100-foot fall while hiking in southern Utah

Posted at 9:16 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 23:16:37-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- Amber Kohnhorst, a nurse from Minnesota, was on her way to Utah to volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Society. She stopped in Arizona to rest at an Air B&B and decided to go for a short, sunset hike.

"I couldn’t find my footsteps and that’s when my brain went into panic mode. I tried calling 911 right away but I had no cellphone service so I needed to find my way down," Kohnhorst said.

Kohnhorst, 25, was looking for her way down Rose Cliff's Trail in Arizona when she lost her balance.

"I blacked out, which is probably my mind’s way of saving me all the trauma I went through," Kohnhorst said.

She landed on her back and had no idea where she was. Luckily, as an experienced hiker, she had brought a whistle.

"I couldn’t lay flat and every time I moved I screamed and with that I blew my whistle hoping someone could hear me but I was in the middle of nowhere," Kohnhorst said.

She had her cellphone but didn't have any service. When a full day went by without any signs of rescue, she started writing goodbye letters to her family on her phone.

"I wrote letters to my parents. I’m sorry. I’m trying to blow my whistle. I’ve fallen. That was going to be my goodbye," Kohnhorst said.

It had been 24 hours when Kohnhorst spotted a rescue helicopter and started blowing her whistle nonstop.

"I knew this was my one chance to be rescued. If they found me I lived. If they didn`t find me, I don`t know," Kohnhorst said.

It took rescue crews seven hours to reach her. When she told them where she had fallen, crews estimated the drop had been at least 100 feet.

She fractured her back in three places, crushed her pelvis, broke her nose and her ear was torn off.

Despite those injuries, as she sits in a St. George hospital room, she feels incredibly fortunate.

"Yes this week has been hard but I have to remember I`m alive," Kohnhorst said.

Kohnhorst still hopes to make it to the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah one day.

She has set up a Go Fund Me page to help with medical expenses. To donate, here’s the link: