West Haven man rescued from cliff said he'd been there 2 days
Tom Smart, Deseret News
NORTH OGDEN — Search and rescue crews worked several hours Tuesday to bring a West Haven man off of a cliff ledge. But how long he had been stuck there remained a mystery.
"He's not sure how long he's been up here, a couple days," said Brandon Woods, with the Weber County sheriff's search and rescue team.
Kelly Rogers, 43, told authorities he set off on a hike about 2 p.m. Sunday after he was dropped off by friends in the Nordic Valley area, near Wolf Mountain Ski Resort.
After hiking just 4 miles, Rogers fell and injured his knee and ankle and got to a point on the mountain near the North Ogden divide trailhead where he couldn't move, said Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Brandon Toll.
"He said he started walking, just hiking along the trail, sustained an injury (and) he fell. Then he got into this area where he just got cliffed out, and really, just trying to get himself off those cliffs ever since, inch by inch," Toll said. "He himself with the injuries (couldn't) get off the rocks."
Toll said Rogers was in a stable area but just couldn't "work his way off the rocks."
Rogers had not been reported missing by family members or friends. He wasn't found until a couple of hikers heard him yelling for help about 10 a.m. Tuesday.
By 2:30 p.m., rescue crews had lowered Rogers, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds, off the cliff ledge using ropes and a basket, and wheeled him on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. He was then taken to McKay-Dee Hospital Center.
Rogers said he had not had any food or water since starting his hike Sunday. He immediately downed three bottles of water when rescue crews reached him, Toll said. Rogers also didn't know what day it was.
Other than his leg injuries and dehydration, rescuers said Rogers was in good shape.
"He does look in pretty good condition for being out for a few days. But I do believe he was out here a few days, just because of his condition, the way he looked, the way he talked, the way he reacted," Woods said.
Officials were assuming Tuesday that Rogers' story of being trapped on a ledge for two days was real, but Toll admitted that parts of the story didn't add up.
"Just with back and forth, different questions we've had for him, hasn't been consistent," Toll said. "The story kind of changed a few different times. That doesn't necessarily mean he was trying to be deceiving or anything like that. He may not actually remember.
"We don't know if it's because he's been up there for several days and dehydrated. Some of the things aren't making sense. We're trying to piece it together. We're getting more information as to why he (was) in the area and why exactly he was dropped off by friends and worked his way across that point."
The area Rogers was stuck in typically has a lot of recreational traffic from hikers and bikers, especially during weekends. But no one reported hearing him call for help until Tuesday.
"I would suspect that if he was there for (two) days, this area here does get quite a bit of recreation," Toll said.
Rogers' sister was contacted Tuesday. Toll said he did not know if family members knew he was missing. No one was waiting for him at the command post when he was taken off the mountain.
Getting to Rogers proved to be challenging for rescue crews.
"The terrain was pretty rugged. He was just on a few small cliff shelves, but it was a vertical drop-off right after that. Once we got him off the vertical cliff, there was heavy brush so we had to have a chainsaw come through and cut a lot of the brush," Woods said.
The incident should serve as a reminder to all outdoor recreationists to make a plan before they leave and tell someone about it, including where they are going and when they expect to be back, Toll said, adding that hikers should also remember that climbing is always easier than getting down.
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