A Utah hiker is lucky to be alive after falling over 30 feet while climbing Bridal Veil Falls in flip-flops. The 24-year-old man, Justin Hill, isn't a novice hiker. He has climbed the trail many times to enjoy the "beautiful" views, but this impromptu hike was almost his last.
On September 8th, Hill decided to stop in Provo Canyon for a spur-of-the-moment hike. In an interview, Hill told KSL TV that he put on his sandals and headed up to the waterfalls. Once he reached the top, he decided that he was going to a higher vantage point that would give him a better view of the valley. Hill told the outlet that he climbed up a rock wall to reach that point. However, on the way back is when the hike went awry.
Hill had a hard time finding a way down the small wall and chose to go back the way he came. Unfortunately, that is when he fell.
"I can't describe how it was," Hill said to KSL TV correspondent Matt Rascon. "Definitely terrifying. I didn't know what was happening."
Hill fell somewhere between 30 to 40 feet and landed on his back. The other part of his body was hovering over the edge, dangerously close to a huge drop.
Hill told Rascon, "The only thing that stopped me from falling another 100 to 150 feet--people were telling me--was this little tree."
He told KSL TV that the pain was "agonizing" and "it hurt to move and it hurt to breathe." Despite the pain, he was able to muster the strength to move little by little away from the ledge and dial 911.
The ambulance made its way into the area just 15 minutes after he made the call. However, Hill's precarious landing spot was determined to require an air rescue. He stayed on the phone with the dispatcher for an hour and a half until a helicopter came to get him.
He remembers the dispatcher talking to him, asking him what he saw around him, and telling him, "I need you to stay with me."
The day after his fall, Hill had surgery on his back to fix two vertebrae in which doctors put in two rods and six screws. Hill has some recovery time ahead of him before his next hike. Currently, he walks with a cane to keep him steady, and he will be having a second surgery when it's time to take the rods and screws out.
"I definitely learned my lesson not to go hiking in flip-flops," Hill said. The experience won't completely deter him from hiking again, he'll just be sure to do it with better footwear. "I definitely feel that someone higher above has bigger plans for me and didn't think it was my time to go," he said.
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