Man in critical condition after boulder hits him

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by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 16 at 2:49 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- An Arizona man was in critical but stable condition a day after a car-sized boulder slid onto a mountain road and landed on him.

The 27-year-old, unidentified Phoenix man and four others were headed to the top of Mount Elden near Flagstaff to work on a radio tower on Tuesday morning. The 30-ton boulder slid about 20 feet downhill and hit the man as the group was trying to move another massive rock that had blocked their path, authorities said.

The workers were able to remove the man from underneath the boulder within 15 minutes of calling authorities to report that the lower part of his body was pinned, Coconino County sheriff's Sgt. Jason Lurkins said. The group wrapped a tow strap around the boulder and attached it to one of their trucks, lifting it as they placed jacks underneath to hold the boulder up so they could free the man, he said.

"You know, somebody was watching him," said Lurkins, who arrived less than 10 minutes later.

The man remained in intensive care Wednesday with injuries to his pelvis and legs. Sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said the man's family declined interview requests. Blair would not release the name of the out-of-town company that employed the men.

Summit Fire Department Capt. Brian Parker described the boulder as being "as big as a Volkswagen." He said the man obviously was scared and in pain, but he was alert the entire time, answering questions and talking to responders who arrived on scene.

"Just the fact they were able to get it off him was impressive, and it made our job a whole lot easier," Parker said. "Anytime there's any kind of crushing injuries like that where they're trapped, the sooner the better to get them out."

Thunderstorms washed out parts of the road, preventing anything but high-clearance vehicles from accessing the site. The man ultimately was transported down the mountain in one of the sheriff's office vehicles about an hour after the emergency call came in, Lurkins said.

The road remained closed Wednesday. Coconino National Forest spokeswoman Brienne Magee said crews will assess it once the rain eases and eventually will move the boulders.

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