A North Carolina man crawled for four days after breaking his leg in the same Utah canyon made famous in the film “127 Hours,” where a hiker, pinned by a boulder, cuts his own arm off to save his life.
Amos Wayne Richards, 64, had been hiking for a few days in Canyonlands National Park when he decided to drive 100 miles to hike the Little Blue John Canyon on Sept. 8. The canyon in Wayne County, Utah, was featured in “127 hours” where actor James Franco portrays hiker Aron Ralston’s real-life story of survival. Ralston was trapped in the canyon for five days and cut his arm off with a 2-inch knife to free himself from a boulder.
Richards told ABC Affiliate WSOC that the hike started out as an easy adventure for the outdoorsman.
He said the hike seemed fairly easy until he started down a 70 foot deep ravine and got within 10 feet of the bottom when he slipped and fell.
“I dislocated my shoulder and bumped my head on the rock,” Richards told WSOC.
Richards was able to pop his shoulder back in place. Thinking, he’d escaped the worst of his injuries, he took pictures of the canyon and then began to climb out the same way he had climbed into the canyon. He noticed his ankle was hurting, but said it wasn’t severe at first.
Holding his right foot in place to ease the pain, it took him 30 minutes to get out of the canyon.
“I went to take a step and realized that I couldn’t put an ounce of weight on my foot and so I sat there for about 30 minutes thinking maybe I wasn’t going to be found…But then I went ahead and cut up my camera bag and a water bag…and strapped them around my knees for pads and started crawling,” Richards said.
He crawled for four days with just two protein bars, two bottles of water and two bottles of Gatorade. He tried and failed to make a splint for his broken leg.
“I snacked on the bars and drank the water. By the end of the second day, I’d finished the water up, but that night thunderstorms came up and it rained real hard and I could hear water rushing in the ditch nearby. So the next morning, I went in the ditch and found a puddle of water and filled my bottles back up and I had to strain them through my shirt to get all the trash out of them– bugs and sticks,” he said.
When he was rescued by park rangers from Canyonlands National Park, he’d finished his last two swallows of water that day.
“It was so miserable at night, so cold…I couldn’t stand the thoughts of another night down there…When I saw it [the rescuers], that was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen in my life,” Richards said.
Paul Henderson, a spokesman for Canyonlands National Park, said that rangers had been looking for Richards since they found his campsite unattended.
“We first noticed on Friday, Sept. 9, that we had for all intents and purposes an abandoned campsite…It obviously hadn’t been stayed in for a day or two so our rangers began to investigate,” Henderson said.
Looking for clues at the campsite and talking to Richards’ family and friends, they realized he was near Little Blue John Canyon.
“Once we figured out where we thought he was and got a helicopter up in the air, it was a relatively quick process to spot him and to pick him up and transport him to the hospital,” he said.
Henderson said that since the film ’127 Hours’ was released, they’ve seen an influx of hiking enthusiasts flocking to Little Blue John Canyon. Henderson said that so far, Richards ordeal has come the closest to Ralston’s.