New Mexico man recounts life-saving Colorado mountain rescue

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A New Mexico man who fell one-hundred feet off a Colorado mountainside is sharing the story of how some fearless rescuers saved his life.  

“I didn’t ever think that I was going to get off that mountain,” said Josh Collman. “There was one point where I called my wife and I said, “Honey, I don’t think I’m going to make it.’”  

A Rio Rancho resident, Collman is recounting his life-threatening fall last August. He was hiking in the Colorado wilderness when he fell from an area known as “Crestone Peak.” 

“I’m here today because of those people,” said Collman of those who rescued him. “I got a front row seat and got the view of how good humanity can be.” 

Collman and his friend Jordan were coming down from the Crestone Needle summit on Aug. 13, 2017, when Collman believes he lost his footing. 

“All of the sudden, out of nowhere, I just start falling, and I mean it was just quick as that,” said Collman, while snapping his fingers.   

Collman fell at least 100 feet, scraping his hands and body along the way. He landed on the edge of a rock along the mountain.  

“I looked down and I noticed that my tibia bone was sticking out of my ankle area,” said Collman. 

The force of the impact was enough to dislocate Collman’s tibia, forcing the entire bone through the skin around his ankle.  

“The fear, it transfers from dying from a fall too, ‘oh my god, I can’t get off this mountain unless a helicopter comes,’ because I couldn’t move, it was just such a hard impact,” said Collman. 

Collman was carrying an emergency GPS transponder, but the device wouldn’t work. Fortunately, Collman and his friend were able to use their cell phones. 

While emergency crews answered, help wouldn’t arrive for at least another six hours. Severe thunder, lighting and hail kept Vail Mountain Rescue and a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter from responding. 

“I remember the hail kind of pushing me over, wanting to push me off the kind of ledge we were on and Jordan’s over there just taking the hail off of my shoulders,” said Collman. “The thunder was deafening to the ears.” 

Around 6 p.m., Collman and his friend were plucked off the mountainside at around 13,000 feet. 

“The National Guard was about to call it off and we would have had to been there all night,” said Collman. 

Collman credits search and rescue crews for their commitment and saving his life. 

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am of these guys, or men and women you know that risk their lives for me,” said Collman. “Be grateful that they’re out there, they’re like angels out there.” 

“To come out of a helicopter at 13,600 feet on a rope to save somebody… that’s a big deal,” said Collman. 

After spending the last year recovering from his injuries, Collman is walking again and even hiking again. However, he says he is far more cautious about nature. 

“It’s not about summiting anymore, it’s about just being present within the mountains and being humble,” said Collman.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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