Cyclist falls on Aspen trail
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” A Florida man was hauled by rescuers up a steep slope along the Rio Grande Trail, looking banged up and bloody but alive and talking, after he fell while on a bicycle ride on the trail Friday morning.
A crew of 21 rescuers spent about 30 minutes strapping John Richard Allison onto a plastic stretcher and, using block and tackle, hauling him up the steep hillside to safety, where they transferred him to a body cast and took him in an ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital.
He was reported in “fair” condition after being hospitalized.
Allison, 69, of Palm Beach, Fla., reportedly was riding east along the trail at around 11:15 a.m. when “he lost his bike,” said his friend and riding partner, Kent Pope, 62, of Clarion, Pa.
Pope said Allison has what Pope called a “prosthetic right hip,” and he wondered if that might have caused Allison some trouble while riding.
Pope said he was riding ahead of Allison on the trail and heard Allison shout. When Pope stopped and turned, he saw Allison standing near a culvert that carries the White Horse Springs waterfall under the trail and sends it cascading down the steep hillside and into the Roaring Fork River, below Aspen.
While Pope was watching, he said, Allison slipped on the gravel trail, which is somewhat eroded on the river side, and vanished down the steep slope. Pope said he was unsure whether Allison had a grip on his bike at that point, or was reaching for it.
When Pope reached the point where his friend had vanished, he said, he saw Allison lying face down about halfway down the slope, with his feet uphill, and not moving.
“I thought he’d broken his neck,” a shaken Pope recalled. “I thought he was dead.”
He was not, though, and a quick call to emergency dispatchers brought rescuers to the scene.
Rescuers, who included personnel from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department, the Aspen Ambulance service and the county’s Open Space and Trails Program, first had to place a plastic sheet over the culvert intake to cut off the surge of water from the springs, which were steadily dousing Allison, according to Deputy Sheriff Jeff Lumsden.
After hauling Allison back up to the trail, rescuers reported that his helmet was cracked, in addition to numerous cuts and scrapes on his head, arms and legs.
“What hurts, Dick?” someone asked. “Everything?”
Allison nodded in affirmation.
The two men are here for the Aspen Music Festival concerts, and Pope said Allison is “a seasoned biker” who has ridden the Rio Grande Trail before.
“This is the fourth serious bicycle accident in unincorporated Pitkin County in two days,” noted a release from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The statement went on to recommend “that cyclists stay focused on the road or trail, ensure their equipment is good condition, wear helmets and carry a cell phone in case of emergency.”
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