8-year-old recovering after climbing accident in Sandias

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An 8-year-old Albuquerque girl is on a long road to recovery after a scary accident in the Sandias left her seriously injured. While it’s common to see families climbing boulders along trails in the Sandias, a climb last Sunday turned into a life-changing event for the Lewis family and their daughter, Callaway.

The trail near Tierra Montanosa Drive NE and Camino de la Sierra NE is a favorite for Anthony Lewis and his 10-year-old son Chaz, and 8-year-old Callaway, who are both avid climbers. “We used to come out here every Saturday in the summer,” Chaz said.

“We always kind of climb up to the rocks right there and just drink our water and have a snack,” Anthony said. They stopped at their usual spot last Sunday, but this time was different.

“I just heard hysterical screaming and just yelling and I knew something just terrible had happened,” Anthony said. He climbed up the rocks to find Callaway pinned between two large boulders.

“The only think that was going through my mind was time. Because just looking at her leg I knew that we didn’t have a lot of time,” he said. The family said a boulder slid, pinning Callaway to another. After unsuccessfully trying to move the boulder, he was able to pull his daughter free and tied his shirt around her injured leg. He carried her off the trail and to a nearby yard. Chaz couldn’t get through to 911, and eventually nearby hikers were able make the call. Callaway was taken to UNM Hospital.

“She’s sad. And she’s scared,” Laura Lewis, Callaway’s mom, said. “She doesn’t understand what all happened and I think she’s experiencing just fear of…what might happen next. Because it’s been such a chain of events and it’s scary.”

Callaway has a long list of injuries. Her pelvis is broken in multiple places, she has several spine fractures and a spleen laceration. She has had transfusions, kidney problems, and a hard time breathing at some moments, according to her mom. Callaway will get part of her right leg amputated next week.

“Her body is bruised and broken,” Laura said. “She’ll need more surgeries over more years, quite a few possibly.”

That’s where the community is stepping in. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $100,000 in two days to help the family with current and future medical bills. “Super thankful. We feel like she has cheerleaders that don’t know her. It’s been amazing. It’s been overwhelming, I would say, in a good way,” Laura said.

The family is also sharing a message to others. “We probably been on that same rock, I would venture to guess probably 10 times. We stop at that same place every single time. Just be careful because something you think might be stable might not be stable,” Anthony said. They’re also thankful things didn’t turn out worse.

“I was just in total shock and panic but now that we’re starting to work through it and kind of come up with a plan for what we’re going to do, I feel a lot more positive. I was afraid for her life for quite a while,” Anthony said.

“If that rock was not there it would’ve killed her,” Chaz said.

“We expect her to remain as strong as she has always been,” Laura said. After the amputation surgeries, Callaway is expected to eventually get a prosthetic and do rehabilitation at UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital. The family said it is considering reaching out to the City of Albuquerque to see if signage could be put up in the area warning people of unstable boulders.

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