Greg Hein descended from the 13,600-foot Mount Goddard in California’s Sierra Nevada range when he accidentally knocked loose a boulder which ended up falling right on his lower leg.
When he looked down at the bone protruding from his right shin, his foot dangling, he knew he had to do something to stop infection and safe his leg while he hoped for a rescue.
“I had to grab it so hopefully it wouldn’t rip off,” Hein told the Fresno Bee when he looked down at his foot.
After he stabilized and assessed his situation, Hein briefly considered applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, but it was a move that he knew would end with his leg being amputated. Instead, he used hiking gear to secure his leg, and he moved to a clearing where he thought he’d have a good vantage point to wait for rescuers. His leg did become infected, but he didn’t loose an alarming amount of blood and remained lucid.
For six days, Hein survived by eating moths and crickets and drinking melted ice. When his father didn’t hear from him two days after he was expected, a search effort was launched. Last Thursday, Hein was spotted by a helicopter crew.
“I can’t commend them enough for the efforts and the energies that they put out to try and save one person’s life,” Hein told the Fresno Bee.
Since his rescue, the 33-year-old has had two surgeries with more expected on his leg, which broke in three places.
Overall, Hein is probably glad he was able to save his leg, because he plans to hike again, though not alone.
“As soon as I can get back to trail running and hiking, I’ll be out there,” he said. “It’s my community.”
He told the Fresno Bee his hopes his “blunder” will help someone.
Watch Hein recall the ordeal with the newspaper only a few days after his rescue:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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