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Man hangs onto cliff for 2 hours before daring rescue

By Hailey Smith and Shara Park | Posted - Aug 30th, 2013 @ 7:10am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Crews rescued a man from the side of a cliff after he hung about 500 feet in the air for more than two hours.

Crews said the man went for a hike late Thursday night on remote, private property along Victory Road, north of the Capitol. He got stuck around 2 a.m.

"I couldn't go up or down, so I turned around and started screaming for help," he said.

Another man at a Tesoro gas station heard faint cries for help. He investigated and found the hiker stuck, in the dark, on the side of the cliff.

"He didn't have any support system, any kind of rope system to hold him there. He was just dangling," said John Knowlton, a heavy-rescue firefighter with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Search and rescue crews said the terrain was very steep and rocky and posed a danger even for trained professionals.

Advice for hikers
With Labor Day weekend approaching, the fire captain on scene reminded hikers to know the terrain, take the proper equipment, and not hike in the dark.

"I would advise not to go climb in there. I could barely stand up there. I was weighting on my rope most of the time because the rocks would just slip away," Knowlton said.

Rescue crews worried that the hiker's muscles would fatigue and he would lose his grip before they could reach him. The man was holding on with just his hands and feet.

They reached him around 3:30 a.m. and attached him to a rope system, then lowered him 80 feet to a ledge. From there he was taken to an ambulance but he did not appear seriously injured.

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Hailey Smith
Shara Park

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