Yesterday was going to be the last day of what was an amazing and fabulous vacation out west, but when doing the first climb of the morning, I lowered Rich and the rope slipped right past my belay (in order words, the rope was too short to lower him off) sending him head first on the rock where he broke his nose, then again 10 feet lower where he landed on his side and head, breaking some ribs, creating an immense laceration on his head (20 staples) and doing more stumbling down the rock. I thought he was dead.
I've never felt this awful. I ran to his help - blood everywhere, he was not responsive, and we were in the middle of nowhere at City of Rocks, practically. I waited a minute for him to somewhat regain consciousness, and then positionned him with his feet up with the hope that while I was getting help, he would not go into shock.
I then ran to the car like I've never ran before and drove to get help, and I luckily ran into a ranger who immediately set out a rescue team and called a helicopter for an evacuation. I then ran back up to Rich and thank god, he was still alive.
About an hour after the accident, he was in the hands of paramedics and was heli-flown to a trauma center in Ogden, Utah. I drove there a few hours later and he had the best team caring for him - truly amazing medical staff.
Anyways, it has been the worst day of my life, between the fear of losing him altogether, the guilt of not having noticed the rope issue, and the pain of seeing him in such distress... and the fact that it was a completely preventable accident. A COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE accident. Just awful.
(Two weeks earlier, another women dropped her husband the same way but 50' and he wasn't so lucky - I did not ask details.)
He was extubated last night and they will be doing more tests today to make sure his brain and spine are fine - thus far, all the tests came back great. No major injuries, just some things that will heal soon.
PLEASE always tie a knot at the end of your rope when top roping, identify CLEARLY the mid-way point of the rope. And wear a helmet.
I will put an update in a few days, but no news until then is good news.