Fall victim in stable condition

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— A 20-year-old Illinois man who sustained serious injuries after falling off a trail in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area is in stable condition at the St. Anthony Hospital in Denver.

Justin Wierman, who fell along Trail 1119 that travels across Devil's Causeway, told police Friday night that doctors could release him from the hospital as early as Monday.

Wierman, with three friends also from Illinois, hiked Thursday afternoon to the trail's summit. At about 4 p.m., Wierman was the first of the group to begin the descent, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.

As Wierman hiked down, he started to jog slowly, and then broke into a run.

He was unable to stop his momentum and tumbled off the trail for about 40 feet down the slope and into a boulder field, according to reports.

It is unclear whether Wierman slipped on the snowy path or began to jog on his own and then lost control, Warner said.

During the tumble, a rock made an 8-inch gash in Wierman's abdominal region, Warner said.

Wierman also fractured his hip and received numerous abrasions.

One of Wierman's friends called the Garfield County Sheriff's Department on a cellular phone, and a Flight For Life helicopter was dispatched to the scene.

Six workers with Routt County Search and Rescue, and two with the Routt County Sheriff's Office, made the hour-long hike to the area where Wierman fell, which was just north of the causeway's bridge-like rock formation on a pitch known as Chinese Wall.

Workers from Yampa Ambulance also assisted.

By that time, one of Wierman's friends had started hiking back to meet the rescuers, Warner said. The other two friends stayed with Wierman.

At about 6:15 p.m., Warner said, the helicopter left for Denver and the rescuers began the hike out with the woman and two men in Wierman's party.

"It was a great mission and everybody worked together great," Warner said. "Considering the seriousness of his injuries, plucking him out with the helicopter really helped."

The group from Illinois had been on vacation and was camping near the popular hiking spot for the previous few days.

All were in their 20s, Warner said.

Warner said the fall was an accident, but hikers in the region should be aware these sorts of accidents can happen.

"I would definitely suggest that anyone who was going to go there wait a couple of weeks until the snow goes away," Warner said. "Right now that snow's pretty hard. And if you walk on it and slip, you're going to keep sliding People just need to be more cautious when they're out in the High Country."

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