Man rescued after 75 foot tumble
August 18, 1994
Steamboat Springs — A 19 year old Alabama man was listed in serious condition after a 75-foot tumble from the cliffs at Fish Creek Falls Monday afternoon.
More than twenty rescue workers came to the aid of Randall Scott Ammons of Orange Beach, Ala. He was listed in serious condition at Denver General Hospital late Tuesday morning.
Ammons, who was visiting friends in Steamboat Springs, was transported from the scene by helicopter to Routt Memorial Hospital and then on to Denver.
`The accident took place at about 2 p.m. as the man apparently tried to scale the cliffs next to the waterfall. Mike Hirshman of Routt County Search and Rescue estimated Ammons fell 75 feet.
Hirshman has ice-climbed in the area, but said it is not a good place for summer rock climbing. The injured man was not equipped with climbing gear, Hirshman said.
Witnesses on the scene told rescue workers the man had landed in a pool of water and his companions pulled him onto a flat rock to prevent him from drowning.
One of Ammon's companions, Susan Badura, 20, described the mishap to the Routt County Sheriff's Office. She said Ammons had started climbing on the right side of the falls when she called for him to come down. He responded that he could not come down and instead, would continue to the top.
Nearing the top of the waterfall, Badura said Ammons appeared to lose his footing and grabbed for some bushes which did not hold his weight, leading to the fall.
A Steamboat Springs Ambulance crew, including Terry Hermes, and EMT's Mary Kihlstroni and Tony Bender, responded to the scene. They found Ammons semi-conscious.
Bender said the man's injuries included multiple trauma to the head, neck, back and chest. He also had a possible fracture of the left arm and head lacerations.
The ambulance crew, standing in knee deep water, worked to stabilize Ammon's condition and treat him for shock. Hermes said his behavior was combative due to the head injuries, making treatment more difficult. She administered Valium to calm him.
Knowing that the man had life-threatening injuries, Hermes requested that a St. Anthony's Hospital Flight for Life helicopter be flown in from its base in Frisco.
"I was hoping for the best, and expecting the worst," Hermes explained.
Simultaneous with the provision of medical care, Search and Rescue workers were rigging a complex system of ropes to help extricate the victim from the rocky terrain at the base of the falls.
The network of ropes, called a three-way Tyrolean, was rigged to ensure the safety of the victim and rescue workers, according to Hirshman.
When Hermes' crew was ready, the victim was placed on a back-board and then into a steel basket called a stokes. The Stokes was suspended from ropes with Search and Rescue workers Doug Allen, Mark Steur and Jim Vail belaying the basket from a second rope.
The work of guiding the heavy basket over the rocky terrain of the creek bed was demanding enough that four or five by-standers were pressed into service, Hirshman said.
When the stokes finally reached the wooden foot-bridge over Fish Creek, Ammons was transferred to a wheeled stokes and taken up the trail to the waiting helicopter. He was stabilized at Routt memorial Hospital before being transferred to Denver.
Badura told the sheriff's office that Ammons is a college student in Mobile, Ala.
Fish Creek falls is located in the Routt National Forest, about two miles east of Steamboat Springs.