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Police say friend of injured hiker rescued in Neff's Canyon attacked rescuers

Posted at 7:11 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 14:09:49-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team was called to help a hiker who had fallen in Neff’s Canyon and suffered critical injuries Thursday afternoon.

But now, detectives with the Unified Police Department are trying to figure out why one of the subjects of the search and rescue operation allegedly assaulted those trying to rescue him and his buddy.

It was a bizarre and potentially very dangerous situation, allegedly fueled by drug and alcohol use. The young man at the center of it is now facing serious charges including assault on a healthcare worker.

READ: Hiker falls 100 feet in Neff's Canyon, Search and Rescue team captures rescue on camera

Just after 4:30 p.m. an injured hiker was reported to have fallen from the short cliffs above a small cave on the south side of Neff’s Canyon less than a mile from the trailhead parking lot.

SAR deployed three teams: a hasty team to run to the patient and assess the situation, a second team with climbing gear and gear to package the patient and carry him out if necessary, and a third team as backup.

Investigators say they later determined that 22-year-old Kadin Bennett and his friend had been drinking alcohol and ingesting some illicit substances and had gone rock climbing. Bennett’s friend slipped and fell, suffering a serious head injury. Other hikers heard their cries for help, stopped to assist and called 911.

Injured hiker in Neff's Canyon
Life Flight helicopter hoists injured hiker in Neff's Canyon to safety.

The injured man was on a steep slope in snow and ice covered brush and trees. Due to the reported serious injuries, UPD officers called Life Flight to request a fly over of the area to consider a hoist operation.

The Life Flight pilot and crew determined they could hoist the patient from that location, then lowered a medic to the ground.

All of that is dangerous in the best of circumstances, but when the team member touched down, detectives say Bennett made matters much worse.

Injured hiker in Neff's Canyon
Life Flight helicopter hoists injured hiker in Neff's Canyon to safety.

“When the paramedic was dropped down he actually attacked that paramedic, jumped on him, was fighting with him. The paramedic had to physically fight him off," said UPD Sgt. Melody Cutler. "And about this time some of our search and rescue people arrived on the scene and they had to pull him off and pull him away from the scene in order for them to be able to treat this young man and get him off that mountain.”

READ: Increased outdoor activity due to COVID-19 causes surge in search and rescue calls

Police say Bennett, after the assault, took off down the trail but was later arrested and booked into jail on a number of charges.

It's all in a day's work for the SAR team and the Life Flight crews.

“They are amazing human beings." Sgt. Cutler said. "All volunteers, that come out and take their own personal time to come out and rescue people, in this case it turned out to be very different.”

Police also thanked the passersby who initially stopped to render aid.