Runner Snaps Ankle then Crawls for 8-Hours in Freezing Temps to Get Help

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runner, crawled, broken leg,
Crews rescue the runner who snapped his ankle. Credit: US Coast Guard

A runner snapped his tibia and managed to crawl 6 miles on his hands and knees to receive cell service, during an eight-hour ordeal in Olympic National Park, WA on Friday.

The 26-year-old man, identified as Joseph Oldendorf, was on a 20-mile trail run on Friday evening when he slipped on ice and broke the bone in his lower leg 9 to 10 miles from the trailhead, Jefferson County search-and-rescue officials said in a statement.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the man then crawled for eight hours, trying to make the call for help. Jefferson Search and Rescue said its crew was dispatched just before 1 am Saturday and, along with fire personnel and sheriff’s deputies, headed up the trail to locate the man. The team found him and administered first aid around 4 am.

Temperatures were below freezing, and the man wore only light running clothes, Jefferson Search and Rescue said. The crew called for a helicopter to evacuate him, which arrived by 7 am at first light, the Coast Guard said.

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