Being in spectacular physical condition didn't stop something very bad from happening to 21-year-old Dylan Schuetz. But his background as an athlete -- and, specifically, a gymnast -- prevented it from being even worse.
Last week, Schuetz -- an avid and adventurous rock climber whose friends also take part in the activity -- fell an estimated 100 feet during a climb on Saint Mary's Glacier, and while he was severely injured, he survived. Here's the story.
The photo above, from the GoFundMe page devoted to Dylan's recovery, features Cody Tengler and Matt Campbell, Schuetz pals who were with him last Wednesday when he took his nearly fatal tumble. But prior to that, the trio conquered plenty of difficult terrain and produced lots of incredible photos along the way, as the pics Tengler's shared on social media demonstrate. Here's one example from Facebook....
...plus four more from his Ink 361 page:
In addition, Tengler also posted the shot of Schuetz above -- and the full-size image is even more eye-popping than the cropped version:
How did the accident happen? Tengler and Campbell, joined by Dylan's mom, Stacey Dale-Schuetz, shared their story with 9News. Tengler told the station that Campbell had decided to stay on a trail while he and Schuetz negotiated a rock face. But then, something went terribly wrong.
"It was like a freak accident," Tengler said. "All I hear is, 'Oh crap.' And I look down, and Dylan is gone."
Not only that, but Schuetz later told his mom that he fell head first. Had he landed that way, it's hard to envision a survival scenario. But Schuetz is a nationally recognized gymnast, as you can see in this video....
...and he managed to execute a flip in mid-air so that he landed feet first.
The impact was still horrific. As 9News notes, Schuetz broke his ankles and legs, and during one operation, his kneecaps were actually removed.
Fortunately, witnesses and emergency responders from organizations such as Alpine Rescue, a volunteer nonprofit, were on the scene quickly and once Schuetz arrived at a hospital, he's responded well to care.
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Getting back on his feet won't be easy, though -- hence the creation of the aforementioned GoFundMe page, which stresses that "100% of the earnings here on Go Fund Me go straight to Dylan and his medical bills, which will include his stay in the ICU (over 4 surgeries already with more on the way) and road to recovery after he is out of the ICU. Any and all help is wanted/needed."
Folks can keep up with Schuetz's progress on a Caring Bridge site whose most recent post, courtesy of Stacey, reads in part: "Dylan said tonight, he wants to 'thank everyone for all the support and that it helps to hear of all the people praying for him more than anyone will ever know!'"
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.