A hiker in Salt Lake City learned the hard way not to take shortcuts. Daniel Samuelson, a 33-year-old man, broke his leg in multiple places and nearly died after spending four days in a drainage tunnel.
Samuelson described his experience to the Salt Lake City Tribune. He and a friend went for a hike on an area trail on Wednesday when they came across a drainage tunnel. Samuelson had used it before to cross underneath the freeway, and was excited to show it to his friend. But he soon realized that a rope that he had used to access it was now gone.
Samuelson's friend decided that it would be too dangerous and left, but Samuelson decided to stay a little while to explore. After analyzing the slope of the pipe, he decided that he could make the climb. He crawled inside the pipe, and immediately his shoes lost traction, sending him sliding 50 feet below the pipe's opening. He heard his leg crack and could feel the bone protruding from his leg.
At first he attempted to use his good leg to climb up the pipe, but that failed. Then he tried yelling. Frustratingly, he could hear other hikers, but it seems that they could not hear him. To make matters worse, his cell phone died. By the following day, he had already run out of ideas and energy. Samuelson works as an independent taxi driver and lives in a homeless shelter, so he felt like no one would notice that he was missing. On Friday, he contemplated suicide as his body was weakened by his injury and dehydration.
But then, Samuelson received his second wind. Spotting a piece of wood at the bottom of the pipe, he used the board and his shoelaces to fashion a makeshift splint for his leg. He slowly slid down the rest of the way of the pipe, emerging on the other side of the freeway. On the other side, he flagged for help, finally catching the attention of an off-duty EMT. The EMT brought the hiker to the hospital, where he was treated with surgery and an IV for his dehydration.
But Samuelson may not be out of the woods yet. Because his wound was open for four days, the hospital is considering amputating his leg. They are considering discharging him, but amputation is not off the table.
In an interview, Samuelson advised hikers to stay away from tunnels.