Calgary

Canmore mountain biker loses leg in freak Utah hiking accident

Recovery has just begun for a competitive Canmore mountain biker after a freak accident during a hike in Utah led to a leg amputation above the knee, but a crowd-funding campaign has raised his family's spirits.

Basic hike turned into struggle to survive after falling rock hit Matthew Hadley

Matthew Hadley doing what he loves, mountain biking near his home in Canmore, Alta. Two weeks ago, however, his right leg was amputated above the knee after a hiking accident. (Submitted by Adam Hadley)

Recovery has just begun for a competitive Canmore mountain biker after a freak accident during a hike in Utah led to a leg amputation above the knee — but a crowd-funding campaign has raised his family's spirits.

Matthew Hadley and his wife, Catherine Vipond, were enjoying a fairly basic hike at Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah, said Matthew's brother Adam Hadley during a phone interview on Wednesday.

That's when things went seriously wrong.

Matthew Hadley being evacuated from a hike at Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah, on March 13. (Grand County EMS/Facebook)

"It seems like it was just a freak accident. They were walking near a cliff, a rock fell and struck him in the leg. He didn't have any warning," Adam said.

"The rock was only about the size of a basketball. People were thinking he must have been crushed by a boulder. It was not that big of a rock, but when it falls from quite a high height, it has a lot of speed."

Local paramedics said the situation was serious.

"The party reported that a basketball size rock came loose from a cliff above and landed on the patient. Unknown exactly how far the rock fell. The patient sustained serious/life threatening injuries," Grand County EMS wrote in a Facebook post.

The rock ripped through Matt's right leg.

"It really just tore through all the tissue and muscle and crushed the bone in multiple places. His lower leg was the worst. It really just crushed it. There wasn't enough left in terms of connections to keep blood flowing," Adam explained.

Vipond managed to fashion a tourniquet from ripped pieces of Matt's rain pants and applied compression for 40 minutes until first responders could reach the pair by foot. It was too cloudy for a helicopter to land nearby.

"It sounds quite terrible. It's really amazing she was able to keep him alive that long. There was a lot of quick thinking," Adam said of Vipond's actions.

Paramedics respond to Fisher Towers in Utah after a rock smashed into hiker Matthew Hadley's right leg. (Grand County EMS/Facebook)

Matt was stabilized at Grand Junction, Colo., before being transferred to a hospital in Denver.

"He's around six surgeries in at this point. A lot has happened. It went from initially being a life-threatening situation to now it's more about how to have him recover as best as possible and regain the most function," Adam said.

Vipond is blogging about the recovery.

"Today was a long day with lots of ups and downs," she posted Tuesday.

"Matt wasn't impressed that he wasn't allowed to eat until 4 p.m. and had some sedation in order to move his dialysis catheter, which left him pretty tired. The highlight was that he did get out of bed and was able to make it to the hallway, he isn't quite ready to escape yet!"

Matthew Hadley has had about six surgeries following his leg amputation and is recovering in a Denver hospital. (Adam Hadley)

Matt's future, Adam says, isn't in focus just yet.

"It depends on his recovery. He's stable and improving rapidly but the plastic surgeons want him to reach a point where they can close the wounds on his leg and not have to worry about infection. It might be a few days or a week or two."

But there's lot of optimism.

"He can move the remains of his leg around and he's exploring how things feel. The doctors are impressed with what he is already capable of doing. So we are all hopeful for the sort of recovery he will be able to have."

A GoFundMe campaign had raised just shy of $60,000 by Wednesday afternoon for Matt's rehabilitation.

With files from Danielle Nerman and the Calgary Eyeopener

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