Family, friends survive rock fall near Five Springs

A Sunday outing nearly turned tragic for a local family when two young people were hit by falling rocks near the Five Springs Falls east of Lovell.

Friends and family members of the Scott Brown family gathered for a picnic Sunday around 2 or 2:30 p.m., and after the picnic, some in the group took the short hike to view Five Springs Falls.

A quartet that included Scott Baker, 18, of Lehi, Utah, Brady Allred, 22, of Lovell, Jenny Brown, 18, of Lovell and Shaylen Allred of Spanish Fork, Utah, 19, began climbing the cliffs next to the falls around 6 p.m. and made their way to the top of the falls, where they explored a series of smaller waterfalls.

Young climbers (l-r) Brady Allred, Jenny Brown, Samuel Brown and Scott Baker look no worse for the wear after a cliff-climbing accident Sunday evening.

At around 6:45 or 7, Jenny’s brother Samuel Brown climbed up to tell the foursome that it was time to return home because he had to haul water for the family bakery, and the five started down.

About halfway down the cliffs, with the five using a rope, Shaylen Allred anchored himself and threaded the rope around his waist, allowing others to use the rope for help getting back down the cliff face. Above him was Brady Allred and Samuel Brown. Below him, Baker was at the bottom of the rope, and Jenny Brown was working her way down to him, using the rope.

At one point, around 7 or 7:15 p.m., Samuel set his foot against a large rock and it gave way, taking other rocks with it. One rock sailed past the climbers below, but a large rock hit the cliff face, broke into three pieces and struck the climbers below, hitting Shaylen in the leg and striking Jenny on her head. The large rock that hit Jenny continued on down and hit Baker on his left arm, creating a deep gash. He noted that when Samuel Brown yelled “heads” he pressed into the side of the cliff but his left arm whiplashed out and was struck by the rock, creating the gash. Another smaller rock hit Jenny on her back and arm.

Although he had been hit, Baker braced himself to form a net with his body in hopes of catching Jenny if she fell, but she locked up on the rope, even as she briefly blacked out.

“I then realized I had pain in my arm,” Baker said. “I looked down and blood was rushing down my arm. I knew I had to get out of there.”

Baker made his way down the last 10 or 20 feet, where another member of the party used Baker’s T-shirt to apply pressure to his arm. Two people ran ahead to get help, while a third helped him start down the path to the Five Springs parking lot.

At first, he said, he didn’t want to move too fast, thinking that might make his bleeding increase, but as he was walking the blood kept coming so he thought he might as well run and hurried on down the path with his helpful companion. Near the bottom, he was urged to lie down and elevate his feet, and someone used a belt to tighten the pressure on his arm. Herbal medicine was administered to help slow the bleeding, as well.

Members of the party wrapped him up in a blanket and drove him to North Big Horn Hospital, eventually with police escort, whereupon he received 10 stitches, three on the inside of his arm, seven on the outside.

Meanwhile, up above, Jenny was coming to her senses after being struck on her head by the rock.

“I felt very coherent, but I felt blood running down my hands and cheek and onto the rocks,” she said. “I was in so much shock that I didn’t feel anything.”

Brady Allred took over Shaylen Allred’s anchor position, and Shaylen moved below Jenny to help her down, joined soon at the bottom by Samuel Brown.

“I was worried about Jenny,” brother Samuel said. “I even got a rope burn getting to her.”

Jenny said she hadn’t realized the severity of Baker’s injury until she saw the T-shirt tourniquet being applied and a pool of blood forming. She went pale at the sight, Samuel said.

Samuel and Shaylen helped Jenny down to the parking lot, while Brady Allred figured out how to get down from his anchor position on the cliff. Eventually, the group rendezvoused at the parking lot and Samuel joked that Jenny even wanted to help family members pack up and pick up the picnic grounds. The Allreds hurried to the hospital to check on Baker.

Later, other hikers found the trail of blood drops and found Baker’s pack near the lower Five Springs Falls, left there in the rush to get down the trail. Concerned, they contacted authorities, and after being told what had happened, took the pack to Lovell and left it at the Annex.

By David Peck