Injured climber rescued in Prentice Cooper State Park - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Injured climber rescued in Prentice Cooper State Park

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Scary moments in a Marion County State Park.

A boulder fell, crushing a rock climber's torso.

It happened Friday evening in Prentice Cooper State Park, more than a mile off River Canyon Road.

Rescue crews worked for hours to stabilize the climber, and carry him out of the woods to safety.

"We heard the rock fall, and we kind of looked at each other like that's not good," said Kayla Hendrickson, who was climbing with her family, "things that big are not supposed to fall."

Hendrickson was climbing near by when a 200-pound boulder fell some 50 feet, crushing the man's chest.

"When his friend fell, his gear actually pulled a boulder off of the wall," said Hendrickson, "and because his rope was pulled tight, he was pulled into the boulder's path."

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue Service Cave and Cliff Unit carried in backboards and oxygen.

"He was conscious, he fought through," said Brad Tipton, a member of the rescue squad, "but with a large impact like that to your torso, you're going to sustain some pretty serious injuries."

A medic kept the man warm and talking. He could be overheard telling the man he likely suffered broken ribs.

"You want to pack him with blankets and keep him comfortable," said Tipton, "... we wanted to make sure to keep his body temperature up."

Using ropes to navigate the terrain, it took a team a few hours to get the man to the main road, where an ambulance was waiting.

"That could have been my dad that got injured," said Hendrickson, waiting for her parents, who stayed with the injured climber, "because we've climbed that route before."

Hendrickson says it doesn't change her passion for climbing, but it does remind her how important protective gear can be.

"It's scary because the rock fell," she said, "but it's comforting to know all the protection we use does work and does save lives."

The man was wearing a helmet and using other safety equipment.

An ambulance carried the man out of the park. Life Force then took him to Erlanger.

His name has not been released, but first responders say he will likely survive his injuries.

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