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EXCLUSIVE: Woman breaks legs in canyon fall; rescued 11 hours later

TICABOO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Kellee Healy fell 50 feet down a rocky Canyon, badly breaking both legs. She survived 11 hours in near freezing weather as she waited for medical help to arrive in the rural area near Lake Powell.
"If my wife dies in the bottom of this canyon in my arms, I'll never be able to go on," -Todd Healy
TICABOO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Kellee Healy fell 50 feet down a rocky Canyon, badly breaking both legs. She survived 11 hours in near freezing weather as she waited for medical help to arrive in the rural area near Lake Powell.

"My husband saved my life," said Kellee Healy.

"If my wife dies in the bottom of this canyon in my arms, I'll never be able to go on.  I won't be able to do it and that was something that kept me fighting to save her life," said Todd Healy.

The couple is going public for the first time with ABC 4.

"I don't even remember getting ready for the hike.  I remember the day before when I was organizing everything at home," Kellee said.

The avid hiker doesn't recall driving from her Emery County home to the Lake Powell area where her husband was stationed for work.

The two drove to Ticaboo Canyon on December 21 around 10:00 a.m. to enjoy his time off and to celebrate her birthday, which happened the day before.

They found a trail and split up.

Todd remembers walking to Lake Powell and returning to the spot he left Kellee nearly four hours before.

He felt a sense of urgency when he could not find her because the couple had never hiked in this canyon.

He ran to his car.  She was not there.

He ran back to the trail where he feared she was lost, but what he found was so much worse.

He walked for several minutes before he saw her lying 200 feet from where he stood at the bottom of a canyon.

Blood flowed from her nose and ears.  It covered her clothing.

Bones were sticking out of her lower legs.

Medical treatment would later reveal a fractured skull, pelvis, hand, sternum, ribs and shoulder blade.

"I looked over there and I could see that she was not moving...my first thought was that she was dead," said Todd.

He could see where she pawed at the ground around her to get up.

He ran to her.  "I could look in her eyes and I could hold her face in my hands and I could talk really loud and her eyes would spring open and she didn't know she was hurt," said Todd.

He said she would reply, "I'm hurt? We need help? What do we need help for?"

There was no cell phone coverage in the rural canyon and help was miles away.

Todd performed emergency first aid and admits he was almost paralyzed with emotion.

"I would have to go to the edge of the wash and shout out, 'You get control and you get back to work! Save this person's life!' and that's what I had to do," Todd said.

He built a fire for his wife.  The temperature had dropped to about 35 degrees and his wife only had on thermals, jeans and a sweater.

He left his wife alone near the open fire to get help when he realized he only had an hour and a half of daylight left.

It took 30 minutes to hike out and another 20 minutes to drive into cell phone range to dial 911.

Todd says the 911 operator told him she would see what she could do.  Todd said he yelled back if you just see what you can do my wife will be dead in the morning.

He shared the trail heads GPS coordinates and rushed back to his wife.

He was horrified to find the edge of her feet in the fire.

He pulled her body back and tried to keep her warm.

"I would lay behind her and warm her and rub her and rub her all over," said Todd.

He would wait with her another 5 hours.  Strong wind and snow delayed the rescue.

Finally 11 hours after the fall, Air Med landed near his wife.

"There was no other experience in my life that I can compare that I can compare that to is that helicopter coming to take her to where she was going to be better...It was just like an angel being sent from heaven," Todd said.

Kellee lost her toes, but she's grateful to be alive.

"I may not have the feet I was born with, but I'm going to be able to walk again," said Kellee.

She has months of physical therapy ahead, but is smiling about her future.


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