Canyoner returns to Juggler after near fatal fall

Sharing details when things go wrong to make canyoning safer.
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mountains_mishaps
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Full name: Christopher Webber
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Canyoner returns to Juggler after near fatal fall

Post by mountains_mishaps » 09 Sep 2021, 14:59

https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au ... l/?cs=1432

You can also read the story in Jason's own words here: https://www.firstchoicephysio.com.au/about-us

2 December 2018: Jason Wheeler, a physiotherapist from Lawson, was nearing the end of Juggler Canyon with a friend. He was thinking of continuing on to the Grand Canyon next. He had done the canyon several years before, and thought he was near the final abseil. He went to look over the edge of the track but, too late, realised that he was standing only on plant matter. It all collapsed and he was in free fall as he clutched for any sort of hold, but he kept flying down into the darkness of the canyon. It didn’t seem real to him, as he seemed to be looking at himself from the outside in. After falling 20m, he landed hard in a shallow pool of water, and was winded. However, he was able to drag himself up and out of the water. It was then he noticed that his knee had buckled and his leg looked crooked. It looked like only skin was holding his knee together. In fact, in addition to leg and knee injuries, he had a dislocated pelvis, five broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, and some minor spinal fractures.

He probably didn’t notice all these injuries so much as he was in top physical condition at the time, having completed over 30 marathons and ultra-marathons in the five previous years. He was just happy that he was still alive and hadn’t injured his neck or head. His friend climbed down to him but was afraid to leave him alone, there was no phone reception, and neither had a PLB. Luckily, after a short while, a group of canyoners (two women and two men, including a retired GP) who were also traversing the canyon happened to find them. One of them did have a PLB, which he activated, and then he raced to a location where he could use a phone. The Paramedics had to take a long walk to get to Jason, but even then, they weren’t able to get to him out. They strapped him into a Stokes litter but some trees had to be removed before he could be put in a helicopter. When he got to hospital he was given a knee reconstruction and two 15 cm screws were put in his pelvis. A year later, he went back to Juggler Canyon and completed it, and now is back to marathon running again.

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Re: Canyoner returns to Juggler after near fatal fall

Post by T2 » 10 Sep 2021, 10:30

I remember when this accident happened. Jason is extremely lucky to have been able to walk away from a fall of that distance. There's plenty of people who have died or been permanently incapacitated by smaller falls.

While it's great to hear about someone who got so lucky, and managed to fully recover, there's a solid lesson for the rest of us about how deceptive some edges can be, with vegetation and dirty covering holes or exposed edges.

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