David Finlayson has his 13-year-old son to thank as he recovers at home today after being struck by a refrigerator-size boulder during a camping trip.
Finlayson, 52, and his son Charlie were backpacking and climbing near Ship Island Lake in a part of Idaho known as "River of No Return Wilderness" on Aug. 17 when the boulder broke loose.
The boulder hit Finlayson as he jumped to avoid it, sending him careening 30 feet down a mountain. He was briefly knocked unconscious and suffered a broken back, left arm, left heel, and a gash on his left leg that exposed his bone.
"If the boulder had landed on me, I'd be dead for sure," Finlayson, of Salt Lake City, Utah, told ABC News.
With the nearest ranger 13 miles away and no one else around to help, Charlie Finlayson took it upon himself to save his father, whom he said had given him a simple motto: Stay calm.
"He did a good job," Finlayson, a lawyer, said. "He's been climbing and backpacking with me for years ... He had a lot of training."
For a little more than two days, the eighth-grade Boy Scout kept his dad calm and hydrated. He cleaned and dressed Finlayson's wounds and brought food, water and sleeping bags to his father to keep him warm. At times, he walked around the lake, desperately looking for help.
"He was my savior," Finlayson told the Idaho Statesman. "He kept talking to me all night."
Two days after falling, his father sent him on a 13-mile hiking mission to find help. Charlie Finlayson carried a note, explaining what had happened and how to find his father.
Charlie Finlayson said leaving his father and setting off on the journey alone was the hardest part.
"I was scared I wasn't going to find somebody," he said. "I prayed a lot."
Charlie Finlayson said he hiked three miles and found a few men who read his note and then went to help his father, who was eventually airlifted to a hospital. A sheriff's deputy connected his son with a relative who took him home.
"We had a pretty solid relationship with each other before this happened," Finlayson said, "but it's definitely concrete now, or granite, maybe, is the way to put it."