Culture

Hiker Pens Goodbye Letters to Family After Fall From Cliff in Remote Area

Image Courtesy of Fox 13 Salt Lake City
Image via Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Image via Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Twenty-five-year-old hiker Amber Kohnhorst has a lot to be grateful for. The ICU nurse from Minnesota was en route to Utah to volunteer with an animal welfare organization when she stopped off at a bed and breakfast in Arizona. She decided to go for a hike around 4:30 p.m. When darkness fell, she could no longer see her footsteps, so she tried dialing 911. With no cell service, she was lost, and then fell 100 from the cliff she had been hiking. An experienced hiker, Kohnhorst had brought a whistle, but no one was around to hear her calls. From the New York Daily News:

“I couldn’t lie flat, and every time I moved, I screamed. And with that, I blew my whistle thinking maybe somebody would hear me. But I was in the middle of nowhere,” Kohnhorst said. “I wrote letters to my parents, ‘I’m sorry, I’m trying to blow my whistle, I’ve fallen.’ And that was going to be my goodbye.”

[…]

“I blacked out, which is probably my mind’s way of saving me all the trauma I went through,” she said of the fall.

Kohnhorst crawled halfway back up the cliff she tumbled off of before the terrain forced her to stop, and then she tried whistling and yelling for help every half hour, according to the sheriff’s office. She wrote the messages to her loved ones in her cellphone but she still had no service. She later fell asleep.

Kohnhorst lay in pain for over 24 hours, at which point a helicopter search team from the sheriff’s office (alerted by the owners of the bed and breakfast when she hadn’t returned) heard her cries.

She suffered three fractures in her back, a crushed pelvis, a broken nose and multiple other injuries in her fall but survived thanks to her rescuers.

“I knew this was my one chance to be rescued,” Kohnhorst said. “If they found me, I lived. If they didn’t find me, I don’t know.”

Kohnhurst is still recuperating in Arizona and is not yet strong enough to go back home. But fortunately those goodbye letters were never needed.