Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Fri, July 01

Texas man survives<br>150-foot fall into Canyon

GCNP — It’s a rare occurrence when someone falls into the Grand Canyon — and lives to tell about it.

That’s exactly what transpired late Friday afternoon when a 31-year-old Odessa, Texas man took a 150-foot plunge into the gorge at a spot west of Mather Point.

Although he was badly banged up, the man was rescued through a multi-agency effort. The man’s name was not released because it was determined to be a suicide attempt.

Grand Canyon National Park ranger Ken Phillips supervises the rope operation on the edge of the Canyon.

Nancy Mecham, Grand Canyon National Park ranger, went down a canyon wall to stabilize the patient.

“It’s a miracle he’s alive,” Mecham said, shortly after climbing back up over the edge. “He had a broken bone in every limb ... and had a serious chest injury. It’s a miracle he had no head injuries.”

The National Park Service did a “short haul” to rescue the man, which means after he was stabilized down below, he was hooked up to a helicopter hovering overhead and taken over to the park’s helibase.

Guardian Medical Transport took over from there and took the fall victim to Flagstaff Medical Center via helicopter.

“The thing that surprised me was he was fortunate with the location (of the fall),” said Kent Delbon, incident commander. “There was a 30-foot drop and then he hit some trees and tumbled down another 100 feet.”

Delbon said the man was in very critical condition when he left Grand Canyon. At FMC, he underwent surgery and will survive.

The first rescue worker over the side of the Canyon was Matt Vandzura, who went down to stabilize the victim and determine if he was still alive.

After the good news of his survival, Mecham went down. Mecham is an emergency worker who has been involved in many life-and-death situations.

“He was very afraid and said he didn’t want to die,” Mecham said.

The emergency workers braved adverse conditions to perform the rescue. Mecham said “it was a tough space to work in” with all of the brush around.

In fact, in order to get the man stabilized on a board, Mecham had to hold him up the entire time she was down there, about two hours.

NPS rangers were conducting an investigation of the matter, interviewing witnesses at the scene.

About a dozen people gathered around the emergency site, kept back by police line tape. None of those around witnessed the accident, but just wanted to see how the emergency would turn out.

Besides NPS and Guardian, other agencies participating in the rescue effort included the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department and Amfac Fire and Rescue.

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