A family on a trip to see the fall foliage in Colorado turned into a rescue mission when they came across an injured man.
On Sunday, Matthew Meyers, his wife, Karen, and their two young sons, Cameron and Jaxson, took a day trip from Denver to Guanella Pass, a scenic byway through the Rocky Mountains. This time of year visitors come from all over to see the normally green landscape dotted with orange, yellow and red, a sign that fall has started.
The Meyers traveled down a curvy road on their way home when Karen asked her husband to pull over so they could take a quick selfie with the fall foliage in the background.
As they posed for the photo near a bridge, a man approached them saying there was a hiker pretty badly injured about 1.5 miles up the trail, Matthew Meyers told CNN on Tuesday. The man asked if they had cell phone service to call for help, but they didn’t, according to Meyers.
Meyers, who is a senior director for talent development at Elevate K-12, is no stranger to the wilderness. He told CNN he is a hunter and knew that, as it got darker, it could be harder to rescue the injured man.
“It was about 6:15 p.m.,” said Meyers. “It was going to get dark soon and in the mountains, everything changes when it gets dark, the temperature drops and animals come out.”
Meyers said he told the man there was a cabin up the road that probably had a phone with service. Then, after getting his family in the vehicle, Meyers took off on the trail to see if he could help rescue the injured hiker.
A group of hikers (two men and a woman with a dog) was already there trying to help. Meyers said they had to figure a way to move the man, who was in his 70s, down the steep and rough terrain.
“We got to get him down,” said Meyers. “He had a lot of blood on his left arm, leg and side. We can’t just leave him here.”
The men tried carrying the injured hiker from the ravine back on the trail, but that became treacherous, said Meyers.
“It was tough to get him back to the trail,” said Meyers. “We are going to have to build a stretcher.”
Using narrow tree branches, a belt and shoelaces, the group was able to build a stretcher. Platte Canyon Fire Protection District’s Ernie Walker said that the care the man received was instrumental to his survival, per a statement from the rescue team on Facebook.
The group traveled about half a mile down the trail when they were meet by the district’s fire rescue team, according to Meyers. The man suffered from a severe traumatic injury from the fall and was bleeding significantly, as well as very hypothermic, according to Platte Canyon Fire.
Platte Canyon Fire said they wanted to personally thank the five bystanders that helped save the man and assisted the rescue team in carrying him down to the waiting ambulance. The injured hiker was transported to the hospital where he is expected to survive, according to CNN affiliate KUSA.
“The timing was so extraordinary,” said Meyers. He added that if his wife wouldn’t have wanted that last-minute photo they wouldn’t have been there to help save the man.
CNN’s Jennifer Feldman contributed to this report.