Flown to GJ and recovering
By Mark Reaman
A 32-year-old long time visitor to the valley from Texas took quite the ride Saturday, June 3, when he fell into the river from the top of Judd Falls north of Gothic and ended up being flown by helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction where he is recovering from injuries sustained in the incident.
An emergency call came into the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department about 9:40 a.m. on Saturday for an adult male who had fallen off Judd Falls and was in the water below. Crested Butte Fire Protection District (CBFPD) was also notified, and emergency personnel responded right away. CBFPD personnel also immediately called for a St. Mary’s CareFlight helicopter that was able to fly into the Gothic drainage despite cloud cover in the area.
According to Crested Butte Search and Rescue (CBSAR) president Randy Felix, CBSAR was also notified of the incident around the same time and sprang into action quickly.
The Texas man was apparently standing on rocks above Judd Falls that gave way and he tumbled 300 feet down a steep, rocky slope into the river. He was swept down the rapids for several hundred feet before pulling himself onto shore.
A firefighter and paramedic were able to reach the patient on the shore and it was determined he had suffered severe injuries in the fall. The paramedic started treating the patient for several injuries.
The CareFlight helicopter landed on Gothic Road near the bathrooms at the bottom of the Judd Falls parking area where a Mt. Crested Butte police officer was located to help organize the landing zone. Eight CBSAR team members responded to the scene immediately.
“While CB Fire and EMS were treating and packaging the patient, CBSAR was working to provide access to the patient,” explained Felix. “A rope system was set up to lower a litter attendant and litter to the patient. It was a 300-foot descent through steep loose rocks and at times near vertical terrain. The patient was packaged into the litter and was then raised back up the slope to the top of Judd Falls.”
Felix said the patient was then carried a couple hundred feet to CBSAR’s vehicle where he was transported down a four-wheel drive road with the flight nurse and paramedic attending in the back.
“The patient was transferred to St. Mary’s CareFlight and flown to Grand Junction where he is currently recovering,” said Felix. “A fast response from highly skilled members of all the agencies made a real difference with the positive outcome of this difficult call.”
The entire operation took about three-and-a-half hours which Felix said was fast considering the circumstances.