Man in critical condition after 65-foot fall in Spanish Fork Canyon

The thistle slide tunnel is shown near the top center of the image. Photo: Utah County Sheriff's Office

SPANISH FORK CANYON, Utah, July 19, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — An 18-year-old man is in critical condition after falling 65 feet from a drainage tunnel to the ground below.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon, Utah County Sheriff’s Office, said the teen was part of a group of five who entered the fenced area illegally and climbed up to the drainage tunnel, apparently to explore.

In the fall, the man suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs, a possible collapsed lung and lacerations, Cannon told Gephardt Daily.

“A guy fell from the same spot in about 2012, and he died,” Cannon said. “We haven’t had an update today on the kid’s condition, but that’s usually good news.

Search and rescue teams and a helicopter were called to the scene, near the Thistle slide, in the early hours of Friday morning. The victim was located and transported to a hospital.

“Bottom line, it would not have happened if he hadn’t been in that area,” Cannon said, adding that to access the area, the group had to pass multiple “no trespassing” signs and climb a fence.

The tunnel, built in 1983, is blocked at one end, and has been dry and dark for multiple years, Cannon said.

“It’s just one of those crazy attractions, something that looks interesting, like the old house in some neighborhood that people say is haunted,” Cannon said.

“There’s nothing to do but go see it and leave,” he said of the dark, unused tunnel. “But if you fall, there’s a lot more to do.”

Figuring a building story at about 10 feet, Cannon said the man fell nearly the height of a seven-floor building.

“It was against the law for him to be there,” he said.

It is unknown whether anyone in the group will be charged with trespassing, Cannon said, due to the fact that rescuers are focused on safety and lifesaving rather than taking names.

“They may get away with it this time, but it’s only because we were more focused on providing medical care to their friend.”


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