The loving spirit of the people of Moab rivals the beauty of its landscape.
I shall be forever indebted to the 30-plus locals who saw me and my son and our dogs through the most epic 24 hours of our lives and made it possible for me to write a thank you today rather than an obituary.
What began as a lighthearted afternoon jaunt on April 24 to retrieve my son’s disabled snowmobile turned into a life-threatening situation when my son was dragged behind his sled for 1,500 feet down an icy chute on the east slope of Mt. Peale.
He sustained multiple injuries: compound fractures of the tibia and fibula and a shattered kneecap on his left leg, major abrasion “ice rash” to all four limbs, his back and hands, as well as injuries to his right foot and ankle that made weight-bearing impossible.
We were at 11,000 feet elevation, 2 miles away from our vehicle, 100 yards from our fire, inadequately dressed and watching a storm approach when we made the first 911 call about an hour before dark.
The cell tower coordinates from our phone showed us 6 miles to our north, which is where John, Gary and Steve from Classical Air Medical began their search.
I am so thankful they were willing to continue flying through the storm and were able to spot our fire before it died and the storm forced them back home.
It was vital that we stayed calm. We were able to do so only because of the pilots, dispatchers and headlights in the distance. They became our beacon of hope through the seemingly endless wait.
Bego’s amazing team, T. Berry, Brett, Jason, Sandy, Kory, Todd and Terrill, were able to reach us and safely belay, then snowmobile, Konane down to the ambulance, where he got underway by 5 a.m.
San Juan County Sheriff’s deputy Mike Palmer, Allen Firestone and Grand County EMS Director Andy Smith lent ground support. Jason and Sandy tended his body and spirit and he had a huge smile and a new title, “Toughest Patient Ever,” by the time they headed out. Elle and Dusty provided moral support, warm clothes and got my son’s truck safely back to Moab.
The saga continued, however, through the next day, as two of our dogs had been left on the mountain, despite the efforts of the search and rescue sled team.
Dailey made the calls first thing in the morning and suddenly a new network of support emerged – rescue mission number two.
Felix opened his home to us with his sister Katrina in Old La Sal, where we rested until a small fleet of vehicles arrived to caravan up to the base of the accident.
Bill opened the road up the mountain with his backhoe, making it possible to get the vehicles significantly closer to the base of the mountain.
Dax, with a recently broken pelvis and vertebrae, drove up with his mother Cindy to serve as ground support with Dailey. David, Jenna, Moto, Rhett, Taryn and Mark drove up ready to hike.
Dailey insisted everyone stay partnered up, and three separate groups set out into the storm in different directions, intending to sweep the area and meet up at the crash site.
David reached the site first to find the dogs had smartly returned to the scene of the accident. He hiked the mountain two times, returning to walk me patiently back up the mountain to retrieve the dogs, since they refused to come without me. All three parties converged at the site and shortly after the storm began to break with the sunset. The rescue crew was able to descend in high spirits.
My son’s hefty pit bull, Lotus, was unable to walk down the mountain, so David and Moto took turns carrying her in the bibs of their overalls.
Konane woke in the Grand Junction hospital after surgery to hear the story of the dogs and the happy ending for the first time. I am so grateful to my older son, Zack, and his wife Marcy, for rushing to be there when he awoke. Marcy started a GoFundMe for Konane.
Community members brought meals, built a wheelchair access ramp, and sterilized Konane’s home so he could return to mend.
We would both like to thank everyone involved for going above and beyond on our behalf.
Bless you all, and thank you for renewing my faith in the Moab community.