Things That Matter

An Arizona Hiker Fell 70 Feet Into A Canyon And Was Stuck There For 24 Hours— ‘I’m Lucky’

In 2003, the story of Aron Ralston a hiker who became trapped by a boulder in an isolated canyon located in Utah for 127 hours went viral. Well, at least whatever form of viral was popular in the early aughts. Anyway, the story about his experience was ultimately reimagined as a biographical film starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle.

Now, a similar story about an Arizona man trapped in a canyon for 24 hours is making the rounds. And we can’t help but wonder if it will also get the Hollywood treatment. Mostly because his story of survival is pretty incredible.

Jacob Velarde was hiking on a solo trail last Tuesday when he fell almost 70 feet into a canyon.

Velarde had been hiking along the Indian Maiden Falls trail when the area he was hiking on fell apart beneath him. The 24-year-old plummeted seven stories below the surface and found himself stranded in the canyon with a broken nose, broken ankle, multiple gashes, as well as severe bruises. He also sustained a skull fracture and orbital fracture.

Velarde laid in the canyon by himself for all of those hours until a family that was also on a hike discovered and rescued him.

Speaking about the incident Velarde told People, “Right now, I just feel blessed. In all honesty, I shouldn’t have been able to survive a fall like that.”

Speaking to NBC affiliate KPNX, Velarde explained that he is an experienced hiker who goes on hikes about once a month. Initially, Velarde had set out to go on a 12-mile overnight trip with his brother but after seeing the rocky and steep terrain of the hike within the first mile of the trail his brother backed out.

Determined to make the hike, Velarde left his brother with the car keys and decided to meet up with him the next day.

The next morning, at around 8 a.m., Velarde said he made a wrong turn in an area of the trail that ultimately caved in when he walked across it.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1075076109554568&set=a.844902172571964&type=3

Speaking with People, Velarde said that didn’t remember much when the fall occurred because “it just happened so fast.”

“Doctors said I’m lucky that I’m not more injured,” Velarde wrote in a post to his Facebook page. Velarde explained that his ability to survive was likely all thanks to his past experiences as a Boy Scout and a set of EMT lessons he took in college.

“It was a bit scary and painful, but it was all about keeping my injuries from getting worse and staying hydrated,” he told People. “With the knowledge, I had from both of those, I knew that I’d be able to take care of myself. I figured that if I was able to survive the fall, I knew I’d survive the rest.”

Velarde underlined that he felt confident that he would be found because his brother was expecting him. “My brother knew where I was and was expecting me the next day by noon,” he said. “He would have called for help to save me.”

Fortunately, Velarde didn’t have to wait for his brother. The family of hikers found him the next morning. “I honestly thought I was imagining them, but I was extremely excited,” Velarde explained. Soon after the family called for help, first responders airlifted Velarde to a nearby hospital.

“I just want to make sure everyone knows the risks and that it’s better just playing it safe on a hike,” Velarde explained of his reason for sharing his story. “I probably won’t be doing any solo hikes soon, but eventually, I will be doing it again. I’ll just be more prepared and safe [next time.]”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com