Breaking: Hiker's leg pinned by boulder on North Table Mountain

Rescue crews freed woman, who suffered multiple fractures

Hiker rescue, from April 5, 2017.
Courtesy West Metro Fire
Posted

A woman visiting Colorado from Europe was pinned under a boulder for about two hours on April 5 while hiking on North Table Mountain.

The 30-year-old woman was accompanied by a man — an experienced local climber — on the hike, who she had recently met through mutual friends. He told rescuers that he heard a loud crack and looked up to see a boulder coming down from 30 feet above them. The boulder rested on the woman’s legs. He estimated the size of the boulder to be about 5 feet by 4 feet.

Another hiker in the area ran down the mountain to obtain cell service and called 9-1-1. The call came in a little after 12:30 p.m., said City of Golden spokesperson Karlyn Tilley.

As he was running down the mountain, he came upon two other hikers who happened to be off-duty paramedics with the Littleton Fire Department. They ran up to help the woman and were able to start administering aid within minutes of the accident.

Golden Fire Department responded along with nearly 10 other agencies. Initial efforts were to stabilize the woman while finding a way to move the estimated 1,500-pound boulder. Ultimately, ATVs and crews on foot were able to get pieces of a hydraulic spreader up to the site of the accident, which was used in conjunction with airbags to lift the boulder enough to safely get the woman out from under it.

With the woman on a stretcher, it took rescuers about 45 minutes to an hour to get her to the top of the mountain by use of a rope system where a Flight for Life helicopter was waiting to transport her to a nearby hospital. Live helicopter video shows this happened at about 2:50 p.m.

She suffered multiple fractures, and as she was put into the chopper, she was unconscious but in stable condition.

The terrain on North Table Mountain is steep, and was muddy from melted snow on April 5 following a snowstorm the previous night.

Golden Fire trains often for this kind of rescue, Tilley said, although it is unusual for something like this to happen.

But "a freak accident can happen anywhere or anytime," she said. "We all know when we have mountains around, things can move."

There will be an investigation into what might have caused the boulder to move, Tilley said, but first priority was getting the injured hiker to safety. 

The Golden Transcript will update this story as more information becomes available.

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