GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — A 13-year-old North Dakota boy has survived a fall of nearly 100 feet at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon during a family trip.
Authorities said it took emergency crews two hours to rescue Wyatt Kauffman after he slipped on a cliff Tuesday and plunged the nearly 100 feet (30 meters) at the Bright Angel Point trail.
The teenager was airlifted to a Las Vegas hospital for treatment of nine broken vertebrae plus a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung, a concussion and a broken hand and dislocated finger.
“I was up on the ledge and was moving out of the way so other people could take a picture,” Kauffman told Phoenix TV station KPNX. “I squatted down and was holding on to a rock. I only had one hand on it.
“It wasn’t that good of a grip. It was kind of pushing me back. I lost my grip and started to fall back,” he added.
Rescue crews had to rappel down the cliff and get the injured boy out of the canyon in a basket.
“I just remember somewhat waking up and being in the back of an ambulance and a helicopter and getting on a plane and getting here” to the hospital, said Kauffman, who lives in Casselton, North Dakota.
Brian Kauffman was in North Dakota when he heard about his son’s fall and rescue.
A National Park Service search and rescue team set up a rope rescue down to the steep and narrow trail and raised the teen safely to the rim.
“We’re extremely grateful for the work of everyone. Two hours is an eternity in a situation like that,” Brian Kauffman said.
He said Wyatt and his mother were on a trip to visit national parks when the Grand Canyon fall occurred.
Brian Kauffman said his son was discharged from the hospital Saturday and was being driven home. Wyatt and his mom were expected to reach Casselton on Tuesday.
“We’re just lucky we’re bringing our kid home in a car in the front seat instead of in a box,” Brian Kauffman told KPNX.