Broken-leg hiker in desert crawl
Published 25/09/2011 | 22:12
A man crawled for four days across the Utah desert after breaking his leg on a solo hike, inspired by a Hollywood movie about a man who cut off his own arm to save himself after being trapped by a boulder in the same canyon.
Amos Wayne Richards, 64, of Concord, North Carolina, is now recovering at home. He said he was inspired to hike Little Blue John Canyon after he saw the Oscar-nominated movie 127 Hours but fell 10 feet during his trek on September 8.
Canyonlands National Park rangers found Richards four days later. Along with the leg injury, he dislocated his shoulder but was able to work it back into place.
"It took me about three or four minutes to work my shoulder and get it back in place, and once I got it back in place, I stood up and realised my ankle hurt a little bit," Mr Richards told WBTV in Charlotte.
Without mobile phone service and only two protein bars to eat, he began crawling back to his car across the rocky terrain. He filled his water bottles with rain as he painstakingly retraced his steps, eventually dragging himself almost five miles.
"I was actually following my GPS, crawling right on top of my feet print that I had hiked in on," Mr Richards said.
Rangers first began looking for Mr Richards on September 9 after his campsite was found unattended, said Denny Ziemann, chief ranger for Canyonlands and Arches national parks. They discovered his car two days later at the trailhead for Little Blue John Canyon, which is part of the Canyonlands remote and rugged Maze District but technically outside park boundaries.
"The search was pretty quick and dirty" once they realised where Mr Richards had gone hiking, Mr Ziemann said. Within hours, a helicopter spotted him - who used the flash on his camera to catch the pilot's attention - only a couple of miles from his car.
Mr Richards was treated for the shattered leg and dehydration at a hospital in Moab, Utah, before returning to North Carolina to recover.
Mr Ziemann said the result could have been much worse for Mr Richards because he went hiking alone and without telling anybody about his plans.