Marana hiker talks about surviving fall off cliff - Tucson News Now

Marana hiker talks about surviving fall off cliff

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MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Marana man is recovering after falling off a cliff at a Utah National Park. The accident happened on Labor Day and tonight he is talking to the media for the first time.

Images of his serious fall are still too much for Clark Proffitt to grip. "Just kind of a sense of whoa that was close," Proffitt said.

His bruised leg, a cut to his forehead and a cast around his arm are painful reminders.

"It was like a video game from hell and they just flew us right out of there," Proffitt said.

Proffitt's wife Margaret snapped pictures moments before he fell 80 feet off a cliff at Mount Zion National Park. All while she and four friends watched.

"I made a misstep, put a foot in the wrong place and wasn't able to retain whatever grip I had on the rock wall," Proffitt said.

"I was pretty much sure he was dead," his wife, Margaret, said. "I knew that was a pretty long way to fall, I was just kind of a mess. I was screaming his name over and over again."

The group was repelling, a sport opposite of rock climbing, where you climb down the side of a ridge. They immediately rushed to his aide while another friend hiked back to get help.

"I knew this was kind of a fight or flight and I was going to have to fight," Margaret Proffitt said.

After nine hours of waiting, rangers arrived with medication. Shortly after, a helicopter with five Davis-Monthan Air force members came to help, despite dangerous weather conditions. The couple's friends were forced to leave hours earlier.

"How do you leave your friends behind when they're in really rough shape?" Cherise Glauser, a friend of the Proffitt's, said.

Proffitt was taken to a Las Vegas hospital where he spent 12 days in ICU and much of that time in a medically induced coma. He tells Tucson News Now he suffered a brain injury and many broken bones.

"I broke my back in a couple of different places, I broke a couple of ribs," Proffitt said.

Proffitt is now back in Tucson in rehabilitation. He thanks the Air force for saving his life. At a special ceremony on Tuesday, Margaret thanked D.M. Afore members for saving her husband's life.

"You gave me back a husband that I can't live without and you gave these 3 boys back their father who is not only much needed but much adored as well," Margaret Proffitt said.

Proffitt is just thankful to be alive to spend the rest of his life with his wife and three young boys.

"For me to go through all of that and be here and to be working toward a recovery, that next feeling is real gratitude," Clark Proffitt said.

Proffitt will be in rehab for another few weeks. If he hadn't been wearing a helmet, he admits the outcome could've been much different. He says this incident won't keep him from hiking again in the future.

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