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Visitor recalls saving man after rock slide in Zion National Park

Posted at 9:43 PM, Jun 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-04 23:43:12-04

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah - One of the most popular areas in Zion is back open after two people were hit by a falling rock on the Riverwalk trail, also known as the gateway to the narrows.

The trail starts at the Temple of Sinawava the last drop off for the shuttle bus and is two miles round trip.

Rangers say the rock that fell was the size of a basketball and seriously injured one of the hikers.

“My family was on our first day of our big road trip vacation and we went to the narrows,” said Danny Allan who is visiting from California.

But through the twists of the trail, his family’s trip took a turn when he heard a loud sound echoing throughout the canyon walls.

“When we came around there were some people telling us not to have the children come up that way because it was a pretty gruesome sight,” Allan said.

Allan is a nurse and his friend is a physician’s assistant, so the two rushed up the trail to help when he saw a man in his twenties on the ground.

“His leg was severely broken, like very bad, bones sticking out both directions,” Allan said.

Rangers say the man was hit by a rock the size of a basketball but within seconds around 10 off-duty doctors, nurses and medical experts gathered around.

“We stabilized his leg with my trekking poles,” Allan said. And after wrapping a tourniquet he and the others there decided to carry the man out. Making the trek to the parking lot where an ambulance was waiting.

“I’m hopeful he'll be able to keep his foot, he was pale towards the end but remained conscious the whole time,” Allan said.

Rangers say the basketball sized rock was just a chunk of a house-sized rock that broke off the cliff and tumbled down, thankfully breaking into smaller pieces before it hit the trail.

“It's a geologically active park and things like this are going to happen, and as visitors, we need to be vigilant and to be aware of what could happen,” said John Marciano with Zion National Park.

It's a trip Danny says he'll always remember, the highlight all the medical experts at the right place at the right time.

Monday afternoon a geologist cleared the area and the trail is back open.

Park rangers say a rock slide or a rock fall happens every day in the park visitors just don't know about it because it's away from the trails but it's not as common for hikers to be hit.