NC man with broken leg survives 4 days in Utah desert

Published: Sep. 21, 2011 at 3:24 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2011 at 3:24 AM EDT
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Wayne Richards
Wayne Richards
Wayne Richards with a cast on his broken leg. He also has large scabs on his knees.
Wayne Richards with a cast on his broken leg. He also has large scabs on his knees.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte area man is recovering after falling down a canyon in Utah and crawling through the desert for four days.

Wayne Richards shows off the camera bag he used to pad his knees.

Inspired by the movie, 127 Hours, which details the true survival story of a hiker who gets trapped in the Blue John Canyon,  Richards packed up and decided to hike it too.

But as the 64-year-old made his way down on September 7, he lost his footing and fell ten feet to the canyon's bottom.

"It took me about 3 or 4 minutes to work my shoulder and get it back in place and once I got it back in place, I stood up and realized my ankle hurt a little bit," said Richards.

In the movie, the character makes the brave decision to cut off his arm after falling down the canyon and getting stuck.

Richards would soon have his own story to tell.

His left ankle was broken which left him no choice but to crawl through the nearly 7 miles of rocky terrain back to his car.

"I was thinking as sore as my knees are,  for 30 minutes I was thinking I might not get out of here, " said Richards. "I was actually following my GPS, crawling right on top of my feet print that I had hiked in on."

Surviving on rain water he put in a bottle and two snack bars, Richards crawled five miles over four days.

His cell phone did not work, but by the fourth day park rangers found his car and abandoned campsite.

They were searching for him. Then, he saw the helicopter.

"I got out, I was waving, I had my camera out trying to get it to flash," said Richards.

Park Rangers spotted him and flew him to the hospital where he was treated for his broken ankle and dehydration.

He knows he's one lucky man.

"It feels good to be back," he said.

Richards believes his engineering background helped him think logically and survive the ordeal.

Copyright 2011 WBTV.