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70-year-old saves man from sliding off Zion ledge

First Published Jun 04 2013 09:14 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:32 pm

A leisurely drive through Zion National Park took a hair-raising turn Monday when a Bountiful 70-year-old found himself sliding down an embankment, holding onto a man who fell from a scenic overlook.

Brent Anderson and his wife, Elsie, had stopped at the Pine Creek overlook on a switchback below the Mount Carmel tunnel about 4:30 p.m. Anderson chatted with an Oklahoma man who was awaiting friends who had gone rappelling, Anderson said. As the Andersons prepared to get back on the road, Brent Anderson watched the man spring over the 3-foot stone guard wall at the edge of the overlook — "like a frog," he said.

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Anderson jumped over the wall to find the man face down on a steep slope of loose dirt, foaming at the mouth.

"He had such a violent seizure, it had basically thrown him over the wall," Elsie Anderson said.

As Brent Anderson tried to help, the man suffered another seizure.

"He just leapt off the ground like 6 inches, threw me back and went down another 5 feet," Anderson said. "He was going toward a ledge."

Anderson said he grabbed the man’s wrist as the man’s body jolted again, sliding within about 8 feet of a ledge and dragging Anderson behind.

"I couldn’t see over the ledge. I thought, do I let him go? Could I let a man go? Or do I go with him?" Anderson recalled.

Anderson said he dug his feet into the loose dirt.

"He had a couple more seizures. They were unbelievably strong. I’m 70 years old, and I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto this guy."

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Elsie Anderson saw her husband struggling near the ledge as the man’s wife sobbed. Elsie ran into the road and flagged down "some younger help," she said. A group of people pulled the man to the top of the slope, and a tour bus driver called for medical help. The man’s wife said he had never experienced a seizure before, Anderson said.

"After 10 minutes or so, he kind of knew who he was," Anderson recalled. "It was just frightening."

The man said his name was Russell and that he was 53, Anderson said. A park spokeswoman confirmed the incident but had no further details on the man’s full name or condition.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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