EDMOND, Okla. – An Edmond 8th-grader who survived a 150-foot fall down a mountain in New Mexico is back at school!
On September 1, 13-year-old Austyn Kerley, his brother, their dad and their papa, Jerry Greenough, 63, camped on the top of a mountain in Red River, New Mexico.
Greenough had been making the same trip for about 20 years, and this was the first year his twin 13-year-old grandsons got to go with him.
On the way back down the mountain the next day, there was an unforeseen tragedy.
Austyn was in his papa’s jeep, and his dad and brother were in their jeep leading the way.
“We got stuck on a rock and, so, my papa tried to floor my jeep to get it over the rock, and the rock slid out and we just rolled down the hill,” Austyn said.
They rolled 150 feet down the side of the mountain before stopping.
“My dad grabbed a hold of him and just cocooned him, just totally protected him from as much as he could as the jeep rolled down,” said Greenough's daughter, Amanda Kerley.
“I remember his arms around me because I held onto his right sleeve all the way down until he let go of me and I lost grip and flew out,” Austyn said.
Austyn’s dad rappelled down the side of the mountain, using the wench on his jeep and hoisted his son back up.
Other people who were driving the same trail stopped to help.
“One of them was a paramedic by trade and went down there, and he did 15 to 20 minutes worth of CPR on my dad and he just never, my daddy was gone,” Amanda said.
Austyn was mediflighted to a hospital in Albuquerque.
He had lost more than 40 percent of his blood, had spinal injuries in his neck and back, a punctured lung, broken ribs and he lost his spleen.
But, he was alive. And now, after recovering in the hospital, he went back to school on Tuesday for the first time since the accident.
“There’s no doubt in my mind my daddy gave his life to save him and he would do it over and over again. That’s who my dad was,” Amanda said.
Austyn now has part of his papa’s knife collection. Just one way to remember the man who died, doing everything he could to make sure his grandson lived.
“If he wouldn’t have held onto me and saved me, then I don’t think I would be here,” Austyn said.