A 40-year-old Colorado woman is lucky to be alive after she plunged 200 feet down a trail in California’s San Gabriel Mountains during a Christmas Eve hike.
Ruth Woroniecki, of Thornton, had left her campground in Lytle Creek to hike up to Cucamonga Peak and was making her way back when she took the terrifying tumble, CBS News reported.
“As Woroniecki hiked down the switchbacks, she slipped on ice and fell approximately 200 feet,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Chris Mejia, according to the outlet.
“She came to rest on a fallen tree trunk and sustained injuries,” Mejia added.
Another hiker spotted the badly injured woman and contacted authorities with a GPS device.
Using crampons and an ice axe, the hiker reached Woroniecki and stayed with her along with other hikers until rescuers arrived to hoist her to safety, Mejia said.
“She seemed a little dazed, confused, but very thankful we were able to get her off that mountain,” Deputy Doug Brimmer, who flew the rescue chopper, told CBS News.
“She initially went feet first and then she hit her head on a log and she went unconscious. She woke up to another hiker helping her out,” he added.
Woroniecki suffered a serious head injury and a fractured neck.
Officials said Woroniecki was wearing tennis shoes and did not have ice-climbing equipment on the perilous trek.
Her sister Sarah launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for her surgery and describe the altruistic woman.
“Two days prior to the incident, Ruth organized an effort to help the homeless on Skid Row. She acquired and assembled packets of blankets and essentials, food, socks, gloves, and other items,” she wrote.
“We distributed the packets and spent time as we often do around the world, bringing these items to individuals in need and sharing the love and compassion of Jesus with them,” she explained.
Sarah said her sis “is no ordinary person.”
“She is one of the kindest, most sincere, and most loving people you will ever meet. She has dedicated her life to helping others and spends all of her time in this country, or many third-world countries, in orphanages, hospitals, on the streets, homes for the elderly, juvenile detention centers, and prisons,” she wrote.
Sarah also described Woroniecki as “a marathon runner, outdoor enthusiast, and avid hiker. She loves to be in the mountains and forests, as we all do, as often as possible.”
She said her sister “has hiked numerous mountains, alone and with her family, from the Rockies to the White Mountains all the way to the Andes. She is extremely cautious and experienced.”
Sarah added that “in retrospect Ruth, obviously, deeply regrets hiking that morning and going in the snow at all. She said it seemed safe at the time and she thought she had good traction.”
As she awaited surgery, Woroniecki passed along a message reminding people to keep their faith even in the most trying times.
“I know that God is such a good father that he has a plan through the pain,” she said through her mom.
“To anyone else who is suffering, call out to Jesus and he will help you. I would like to say a deep thank you from the bottom of my heart to the rescue team and to the hikers who helped me and stayed with me,” Woroniecki added.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Woroniecki underwent her first surgery on Tuesday and was in stable condition.
“She required dozens of stitches and staples to close the laceration in her head, and neural-surgery to begin repairing the damage to her spine. She has a long road ahead of therapy and treatment,” it said.