TELLURIDE, Colo. (CBS4) — A unidentified 25-year-old Denver woman was hospitalized after falling 30 feet near Bridal Veil Falls on Saturday while attempting to rescue a friend’s puppy.
The 3½-month-old puppy named ‘Blue’ lost its footing at the edge of the road leading to the falls and fell down a narrow chute. It landed on a small ledge partway down but was uninjured.
According to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the woman fell while trying to get to the friend’s animal.
An unidentified male member of their group had placed himself at the bottom of the small cliff, hoping to catch the woman or dog if either fell. He broke the woman’s fall. Both were injured.
“We’re looking around saying, ‘How did this happen?’” said Susan Lilly, a public information officer for the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office and EMT who responded to the scene. “When we started to put the pieces of the puzzle together, we realized she fell from up there off the cliff.”
A team from San Miguel County Search and Rescue anchored a rope system to its vehicle and pulled the injured woman up the scree slope to the road. She was transported to Telluride Regional Medical Center and then to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. A sheriff’s office spokesperson told CBS4 the woman suffered traumatic but non-life threatening injuries.
“Very, very lucky,” said Lilly. “This could have certainly had a different outcome, really a life altering outcome, from the kind of fall she took.”
The man had minor injuries and was released after a trip to Telluride Medical Center.
Rescuer’s then turned their attention toward hillside ‘Blue.’
A separate rope system was established and Wiley Holbrooke was chosen to rappel to the pup.
Holbrooke, 18, and a recent Telluride High School graduate, was on his very first search and rescue mission.
“He was super brand new,” said Lilly, “but he has a great rock climbing skill set.”
And, evidently, ability to connect with frightened animals. Holbrooke secured the dog to his belt and brought it back to its owner’s arms.
“He’s probably hooked for life now,” Lilly quipped about the rookie rescuer.
“For me, it was the perfect scenario to get thrown into as my first time because I could get It done, I knew how it was supposed to go,” Holbrooke told CBS4.
Lilly also explained how rescuers asked the dog’s owner to stay out of the animal’s sight while they worked. The dog’s movement risked its own fall in addition to knocking rocks onto rescuers and the injured woman below.
The rescue operation lasted 3½ hours.