Hiker Who Fell 200 Feet on Calif. Mountain Walked to Safety Holding Her Broken Neck in Place
A Colorado woman is fortunate to be alive after she fell during a Christmas Eve hike in the San Gabriel mountains.
Ruth Woroniecki, 40, of Thornton, Colo., had summited Cucamonga Peak in California and was heading back down the mountain around noon that Saturday when she slipped on a patch of ice and fell 200 feet, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said in a press release last month.
The experienced hiker suffered a broken neck, a severe head wound and facial lacerations, according to a GoFundMe for Woroniecki's medical expenses and charitable work.
Afterward, she was had to walk 150 feet to a nearby clearing in order to meet up with a rescue helicopter, which was hampered by high winds, according to NBC News. Woroniecki said she had to hold her broken neck to keep it stable on the walk to safety.
Woroniecki told the outlet she is happy to have survived the harrowing incident on Dec. 24 with the help of good Samaritans who found her after the fall. "I'm just deeply, deeply grateful," she said.
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Woroniecki was camping with family in the Lytle Creek area when she left for the fateful hike, according to the SBSD.
She doesn't remember the fall but when Woroniecki came to, she was surrounded by people trying to help, NBC News reported.
One person was sending their GPS coordinates to rescuers while another was wrapping her up with her coat, per the report.
The SBSD confirmed that a nearby hiker who found Woroniecki "activated his Garmin inReach device to get her help."
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A search crew later located Woroniecki and determined a rescue helicopter was her best option, according to the SBSD. However, an air crew was unable to safely send a rescuer down to her exact position due to "gusty winds coming over the Cucamonga Saddle."
So, Woroniecki was left with no other choice but to hike 150 feet to a nearby clearing, where the rescue helicopter was able to pick her up, the sheriff's department said.
Woroniecki had assistance from a first-responder, who placed her in a rescue harness "and assisted her to an open area" where she could be reached, according to the December release.
After she was flown out of the area, Woroniecki was transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment, the SBSD said.
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Woroniecki is still recovering from her injuries, according to NBC News, but she's back on her feet, which is "extremely exciting," she said, adding that she's been leaning on her faith the entire time.
"That's what I was saying about prayer," Woroniecki told the outlet. She recalled thinking, "Jesus, now, help me. Be with me."
"And he brought me that sense of hope and comfort," she added, "and he got me through."
Chris Mejia of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department told NBC News that the odds of Woroniecki surviving the fall were slim. "For her to be alive," he said, "that's a miracle."