‘Ultrarunner,’ rescuers beat storm to lift injured hiker from steep Utah slope
Provo, Utah (KSL) — Rescuers and an experienced ‘ultrarunner’ beat an oncoming storm Thursday afternoon and airlifted an injured hiker off a steep slope.
The runner, Matt Galland of Provo, received a call from his sister that her friend had taken an unlucky step, fallen and had broken her ankle during a hike up Cascade Mountain.
“If you’ve got a broken ankle, you’re a million miles from home all of a sudden,” Galland said.
Though his sister had already called 911 for help, Galland — who maintained he had scaled the mountain 200 to 300 times in his lifetime — believed he might be the fastest option to render immediate aid.
“Running to the top of this mountain, for me, I can do it in like an hour,” he said.
Galland packed a backpack full of supplies and quickly reached the trailhead where Utah County Search and Rescue team members were equipping themselves for the rescue.
“They had some tape — pink tape — and I just tied it on every turn you could possibly take so they could follow it,” Galland said.
When Galland arrived, he said it was clear the woman’s ankle was badly injured.
“It flopped down and flopped back,” he described. “She did not want to move.”
Rescuers on the ground, Galland said, were able to administer additional first aid as a Life Flight helicopter armed with a hoist hovered overhead and lifted the woman to safety.
Galland captured the hoist rescue on video with his smartphone.
“That guy was hovering about 10,000 feet, dropped a line with a seat, and got her right out of there; it was quick,” Galland said. “They took off into the clouds and disappeared.”
Galland said “about 10 seconds later,” the clouds moved in and it “dumped rain.”
“If they didn’t get her out tonight, she would be in bad trouble,” he added.
Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon said that had rescuers not been able to hoist the woman away at that moment, she likely would have had to stay up on the mountain overnight due to the stormy conditions and subsequent darkness.
The woman was flown to an ambulance and then transported to an area hospital for treatment, Cannon said.
Galland and Cannon said the two women were experienced, knowledgeable and well-equipped. Galland noted the importance of being prepared and always carrying a cell phone into the wild.
“This is a success story,” Galland said. “Bad stuff happens. Smart minds and good people got together and you get to go home, so a broken bone is something small compared to what it could have been.”