Man falls while hiking causeway

20-year-old from Illinois flown to Denver hospital

— A 20-year-old Illinois man hiking in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area fell off a technical part of a trail and was airlifted by a Flight For Life helicopter to Denver General Hospital, where he is being treated for serious injuries.

On Thursday afternoon, Justin Wierman and three friends hiked to the Devil's Causeway, a 11,600-foot mountain summit off Trail 1119. Wierman was the first to descend from the summit on a trail covered with snow, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.

According to reports, Wierman lost his footing in the snow and slid an estimated 40 yards, then tumbled off the trail and down into a boulder field, Warner said.

At about 4 p.m., a person in Wierman's party phoned the Garfield County Sheriff's Department by cellular phone. Officials called for a Flight For Life helicopter that located the party and landed near the accident. Medics hiked to Wierman, carried him to the helicopter and transported the 20-year-old to Denver General Hospital. They arrived at the hospital at about 8 p.m., Warner said.

Wierman was unconscious when medics got to him. He received a serious cut to his abdominal area and lost a dangerous amount of blood.

The party was camping near the popular hiking spot on a vacation for Decatur, Ill. The Devil's Causeway hike is a six-mile round trip from Stillwater Reservoir, just west of Yampa. It is one of the most hiked trails in Northwest Colorado, with 5,000 visitors. The causeway itself is a 4-foot-wide natural bridge-like rock formation. Wierman reportedly fell just north of the causeway on a pitch some know as Chinese Wall.

Though Wierman's condition at the hospital wasn't officially known by press time, Warner said the medics considered him to be in serious condition.

Routt County Search and Rescue and the Routt County Sheriff's Department were called to assist in the rescue.

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