Interview: Woman who fell 30 feet off cliff while hiking

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PHOENIX – Alana Bundock and her boyfriend, Richard Callingham, are both experienced hikers.  On a warm Saturday in July, the two Tempe residents set out on a hike in the Tonto National Forrest.  They were exploring the rugged terrain between Payson and Camp Verde known as Bear Canyon.  

As they made their way through the canyon, they stopped to take a photo when the unthinkable happened. Bundock passed out and fell 20 to 30 feet onto the rocky canyon floor.

Callingham explains, “I'm not sure if she blacked out or just slipped. I looked over and couldn’t see her. She was under a dead tree."

The fall left Bundock unconscious, with a fractured skull and a broken wrist.  They were in a remote area that was hours away from help and they didn’t have a First Aid kit. 

Callingham placed a call for help and rescuers from Coconino County Search and Rescue, the National Forest Service, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department, the Flagstaff Fire Department, and Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue all headed to the scene.  Air support came from the Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter squad and Payson-based Native Air helicopter.

It took rescuers eight hours to get Bundock out of the canyon and onboard a helicopter.  She was transported to John C. Lincoln Medical Center.

Bundock was in rough shape but she has made a remarkable recovery. She says, “I'm so happy to be alive right now!" Her skull fracture did not impact her brain and doctors fixed the gash in her head and literally screwed her arm back together. She says she has no memory of her fall.

The couple says they are very thankful for all of the rescue teams who helped on that Saturday afternoon.