TOOELE COUNTY, Utah – A family is thankful that their dad is alive after a day of dirt biking turned into a successful search and rescue mission.
It was a sunny day in Tooele County Saturday.
“They were having the time of their life,” said Krysta Park, Chad Woolley’s daughter.
Chad Woolley, his son, and his son’s friend hit the trails for a day on their dirt bikes.
“We just thought, ‘they’re guys, they’re having fun,’” Park said.
After hours of riding, one of the bikes ran out of fuel. Woolley told the boys to stay put while he rode back to the truck to get their gas canister.
Chad had left around 4:00 p.m., hours passed, the day grew dark and Chad was still nowhere to be seen.
“He just got on the phone and said, ‘We’re doing our best not to freak you out, but we don’t know where dad is,” Chad’s son told his mom and sister on the phone.
They decided it was time to get help, by the time they made it back to the truck, the situation became more suspicious.
“The gas tank he went for had never been touched, his cell phone, keys, everything was still at the truck," Park said.
Chad’s son and his friend called 911, and search and rescue crews were sent out around 9:00 p.m..
“He actually said a few times some search and rescue crew members walked by him with flashlights but because of the amount of pain he was in with his chest fracture he couldn't yell,” Park said.
Chad had crashed, he was unable to move.
“A rock jumped out of nowhere he hit it, actually flipped over the handlebars about 30 feet from his bike, hit his head first and felt just ripping in his back,” Park said.
“He said it was the most frustrating thing, he could see the helicopter and, you know, he's just sitting there like ‘I’m right here,’” Park added.
Chad was found by crews two hours later, lying on his back next to his bike.
“We turned around to land and put our spot light on him and he started waving his arms, so we knew at least he was alive," said Luke Bowman, the chief pilot with the Department of Public Safety.
Once they made contact they, “kept the guy warm, wrapped him up, put a sleeping bag and some coats and stuff over him and just kept him talking until life flight was able to come,” Bowman added.
Once Life Flight arrived he was airlifted to Intermountain Medical Center. Chad suffered fractures to three of his vertebrae as well as fractures to his chest and ribs.
“But he’s alive and conscious and moving and we’re lucky to have him here,” Park said.