Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 12:00 AM |

Rescue teams pull off tough operation in Provo Canyon


A Provo man was rescued after falling 60 feet down a steep hillside in Provo Canyon on Monday, the Utah County Sheriff's Office reported.

Ricardo Gomez, 32, of Provo was hiking in the Lost Creek drainage area, directly north of Bridal Veil Falls, when he fell down a 60-degree slope, sustaining head, wrist, hip and internal injuries, according to Sgt. Spencer Cannon, spokesman for the sheriff's office. Gomez may have been taking pictures, Cannon said, because a tripod was found near where authorities think Gomez fell, but they are still investigating.

Almost five hours after the situation was reported, Life Flight was able to hoist Gomez off the mountain. After being lifted to a nearby parking lot, he was transported to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, where he is listed in serious condition, according to a hospital spokesman.

"He had a cell phone and called himself," Cannon said. "But there was a language barrier, so we couldn't determine his exact location. The cell phone actually gave out before we could find him, so we just kept looking in the area he had reported."

Rescuers responded to the call, including the Provo Police Mountain Rescue team, the Utah County Sheriff's Office Search-and-Rescue team, the Utah County sheriff's airplane, AirMed, the Red Cross and Life Flight.

"It's a very rugged area," Cannon said. "He was in an area that made it very tough to spot him from the air. We finally made voice contact and worked to him. He was in a very precipitous location at the edge of another cliff. It made it a very technical rescue."

Although the draw where Gomez ended up was difficult to get to, Cannon said rescuers were lucky. If the draw had been steeper, he said, Life Flight would have been unable to get in and it probably would have taken four or five more hours to transport Gomez out of the draw.

Cannon said Gomez may have been climbing, but no climbing equipment was found in the area.