Payson man walks again after surviving fall

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PAYSON, Ariz. -- Mike McEntire has always loved adventure and extreme activities, but everything changed after the Payson man fell 140 feet during a canyoneering trip.

By all accounts, it is a miracle he is even alive. McEntire broke his back and pelvis and he couldn't feel his legs for months. But never one to turn down a challenge, he is on his feet again.

"You're limping today," Jared Tenney told McEntire as he walked into Payson Physical Therapy. 

"It's the end of the day," McEntire responded.

Tenney is helping his friend through the pains of physical therapy.

"I called him a physical terrorist when I first came here," McEntire said with a laugh.

A few short months ago, Mcentire wasn't sure he would ever walk into that room or any other room for that matter.

"The adventure was going great," Ryan Hooper said. "We were up in Insomnia Canyon."

Aug. 13, McEntire was with Hooper, Tenney and four other men for a day of canyoneering near Sedona. They made their way to a 375-foot rappel and McEntire was the second one to go down.

"I hooked my rappel device up wrong," he said, thinking back to that day. "I was going insanely fast, so fast I could not add the friction."

McEntire hit one ledge after 100 feet, then fell another 40.

"I just heard this awful crash followed by another crash," said another friend, Dallin Durfee.

"The thing I remember was the sound," Tenney said. "It was two sharp cracks."

"My legs were paralyzed and I was lying on my side so I couldn't move my arm," McEntire said.

When they learned he was alive, three stayed with him while the other three went for help.

"At that point, we honestly thought we're going to be in a hospital in a matter of hours," Tenney said.

"Helicopters came and we thoughtm oh they're here,” Christian Alexander said. "And they left."

"When we found out he had to stay the night in there, we started to really worry," Durfee said.

Pictures show how Mcentire's friends wrapped him up and kept him warm. Paramedics arrived by midnight, but an elaborate rescue couldn't happen until the sun came up. McEntire had to survive through the night.

"They set up all kinds, hundreds of feet of rope to get him up to get to where the helicopter could reach him," Tenney said.

"The ride up was four and a half hours from the time they put me in the basket," McEntire said.

Twenty-four hours after his fall, Mcentire was in the hospital, his heels crushed, back and pelvis broken.

Recovery for McEntire is not just about getting past the physical pain. He was a local dentist and had to sell his practice. He also has a family with four kids at home.

"It was hard for them," he said. "It's still hard. They ask me to do the things I used to do."

McEntire was the adventurer, the man who would try anything. Before the fall, they never would have thought to celebrate the simple act of standing. But that is exactly what they did.

Many things came together to make that moment possible. The devotion of friends, the will to live and Amber McEntire says the power of prayer

"Who falls over a hundred feet and lives to tell about it?" she asked. "He shouldn't be here and he shouldn't be alive and walking and he is, and it's a miracle."

McEntire likely has two years of physical therapy left, if not more. He will never rappel or climb again, but his family is already coming up with new ideas for new adventures.