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Stranded climber rescued from cliff after falling, hitting head in remote Uintah County area

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 19:30:50-04

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A Utah man who fell while climbing in a remote area of Uintah County was rescued Saturday after a group of campers heard his cries for help.

The 52-year-old man was climbing up a slot in a cliff near Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery when he fell, hit his head, lost consciousness and became stranded on the cliff.

He told rescuers he didn't know how long he was unconscious before he came to and began calling for help.

A group camping nearby — including a member of the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team — heard his calls for help. They attempted to locate him, but were unable to due to echoes off the cliff walls. They called Central Dispatch around 1:40 p.m. to report what they heard.

"The area he was climbing in is out of the way. You wouldn't really expect someone to be climbing there," Uintah County Sheriff's Sgt. Dustin Cheshire said. "If it hadn't been for the camping group with a Wasatch County search and rescue member who heard this guy yelling and screaming, it's unlikely anyone would have found him."

The Uintah County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team responded, and with help from a Classic Air Medical helicopter as well as the search and rescue team's camera-equipped drone, they were able to locate the man.

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew was able to safely hoist the man from the ledge. The man was flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado to be treated for head and leg injuries.

The rescue operation took about five hours.

"Without the helicopters, we might still be working with ropes to get him down off the cliff," Cheshire said.