What was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime for a North Dakota family nearly turned into a tragedy when a boy slipped and fell nearly 100 feet (30m) from a cliff at Bright Angel Point at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on Tuesday.
The good news is that he’s on the road to recovery, and was officially discharged from the hospital over the weekend.
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: Teen who survived a nearly 30m fall into the Grand Canyon out of hospital.
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His family is hoping for a safe and boring drive back home after the ordeal, which all began with a photo — and it wasn’t even their attempt to take one that led to the fall.
“I was up on the ledge and was moving out of the way so other people could take a picture,” Wyatt Kaufman said.
“I squatted down, and when I was, holding on to a rock. I only had one hand on it. It wasn’t that good of a grip. It was kinda pushing me back. I lost my grip and started to fall back,” he added.
Wyatt Kaufman said he moved, so a family could take a picture, and fell 30 m into the Grand Canyon. Credit: NBC
After falling into the canyon, it took two hours and nearly 40 emergency personnel from multiple agencies to get him out and into an ambulance.
“After the fall, I don’t remember anything after that. I just remember somewhat waking up and being in the back of an ambulance and a helicopter and getting on a plane and getting here,” Wyatt said.
“Two hours is an eternity in a situation like that … they have to rappel down the cliff and get them out of the out of the canyon in a basket,” added Wyatt’s dad Brian Kaufman who was at home in North Dakota at the time when he heard the news.
“We’re extremely grateful for the work of everyone.
“It was one of the most heart-wrenching phone calls I’ve ever had, to be honest with you,” he said.
Rescue crews had to rappel down the cliff and get the injured boy out of the canyon in a basket. Credit: Grand Canyon Conservancy Photo/Lauren Cisneros
Bloodied, bruised and broken, Wyatt was flown to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he is recovering from several serious injuries, including nine broken vertebrae, a concussion, ruptured spleen, collapsed lung, broken hand and dislocated finger.
The 14-year-old still has a hard time wrapping his mind around what has happened to him.
“His face looks a lot better than it did yesterday,” Brian Kaufman said.
Wyatt, the family’s only child, has a long road to recovery. He’s expected to be discharged from the hospital this weekend.
The family plans a road trip home to make new memories to replace those made at the Grand Canyon.
“We’re just lucky we’re bringing our kid home in a car in the front seat. Instead of in a box. A lot of people back in North Dakota longhand home as quickly as possible,” Brian said.
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