A Steamboat Springs man was seriously injured after puncturing his leg with a hunting arrow while cleaning an elk in the Buffalo Pass area Saturday night.
Sam Spillane, 18, suffered heavy blood loss and was transported to a Denver hospital, where he underwent surgeries to seal the wound, said 17-year-old Clay Whiddon, who was with Spillane when the accident occurred.
Spillane, Whiddon and 18-year-old Dillon Dennis were hunting about 4 1/2 miles off of Buffalo Pass Road south of the Rocky Flats area when Spillane killed the elk. The three men proceeded to prop it up on its back with an arrow for cleaning, Whiddon said.
At about 6:30 p.m., Spillane cut open the elk, accidentally puncturing the animal's stomach, which released foul smelling gases. Backing away from the smell, Spillane stepped on the broad tip of the arrow, which apparently had been exposed during the cutting process, Whiddon said.
The 1-inch diameter tip entered Spillane's leg behind the ankle, puncturing a main artery before coming out the other side, Whiddon said.
Dennis and Whiddon elevated Spillane's leg and applied pressure on the wound to control the heavy bleeding. Whiddon used his cell phone to call Spillane's father, Jim Spillane, who called 911, Whiddon said.
Under the direction of Routt County dispatch, Whiddon hiked to the group's parked car about 1 1/2 miles away to meet paramedics, while Dillon remained with Spillane, who had managed to pull the arrow out of his leg, Whiddon said.
Authorities with the Colorado Division of Wildlife were in the area and responded to the accident first, Whiddon said.
A Routt County Search and Rescue team and the Steamboat Fire Department officials arrived at about 8 p.m., about an hour after they were notified, said Randall Hannaway with Search and Rescue Team 2.
Complicating the rescue was steep terrain, which rescuers had to hike while carrying Spillane on a stretcher before reaching four-wheelers that took Spillane to a waiting ambulance, Hannaway said.
The ambulance took Spillane to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he received a blood transfusion before being flown to a hospital in Denver, Whiddon said.
Because of privacy issues, officials would not specify the hospital caring for Spillane, Whiddon said.
"They think he is going to make it out all right. ... We're not sure how well he is going to be able to walk," he said.
Spillane and Dennis are students at Lowell Whiteman School. Whiddon, a student at Steamboat Springs High School, said he and Dennis were pretty shaken up by the incident.
"We'd never been in a situation like that," he said.
Whiddon was thankful for the cell phone he had bought just several days before the accident. He purchased the $200 model to ensure he'd have reception in remote areas, he said.
He did regret, however, that he and his friends didn't prepare themselves with more clothing, food and water.
"It hit me hard that you should always really be prepared because you never know when something like this will happen," he said.
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