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Hiker recovering after 200-foot fall while hiking near Cucamonga Peak

Hiker recovering after 200-foot fall while hiking near Cucamonga Peak
Hiker recovering after 200-foot fall while hiking near Cucamonga Peak 03:28

A woman is recovering after miraculously surviving a nearly 200-foot fall while hiking near Cucamonga Peak on Christmas Eve. 

Ruth Woroniecki.

Ruth Woroniecki, 40, had left her Lytle Creek campground early Saturday morning to hike to the peak, one of the highest found in the San Gabriel Mountains.

"As Woroniecki hiked down the switchbacks, she slipped on ice and fell approximately 200 feet," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Corporal Chris Mejia. "She came to rest on a fallen tree trunk and sustained injuries."

Deputies don't believe that she was equipped with any ice-climbing gear, and was wearing tennis shoes at the time of the fall. 

She came too after another hiker found her, contacting authorities with their GPS device. Due to the spot where she landed, the hiker "equipped with crampons and an ice axe, hiked to her location and assessed her condition."

A search and rescue team was able to hoist Woroniecki from the location, despite "gusty winds coming over the Cucamonga Saddle," which made the rescue difficult, Mejia noted.

Woroniecki was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment on injuries suffered, which included a fractured neck and a serious head injury.

"She seemed a little dazed, confused, but very thankful we were able to get her off that mountain," said Deputy Doug Brimmer, who flew the "40 King 4" rescue helicopter the day of Woroniecki's rescue. "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."

While she prepares for surgery, Woroniecki passed along a message through her mother, reminding people to keep their faith even in the most trying moments. 

"I know that God is such a good father that he has a plan through the pain," her message said. "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."

Grateful that Woroniecki survived the fall, law enforcement is offering a range of tips to other hikers who may set out in similarly icy locations, in hopes of avoiding a similar, and likely deadly, scenario.

"This goes to serve for those that want to go up there hiking. Remember, bring your crampons, bring your spikes, bring an axe," Brimmer says. 

He noted that the area surrounding Mount Baldy is a hotspot for rescues, especially during winter months. In 2019, search and rescue team veteran Timothy Staples died while searching for a stranded hiker, Sree Mokkapati, who was later found dead as well. 

"On Tuesday, Ruth was in stable condition after her first surgery," according to a statement from San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "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."

Family members started a GoFundMe for Woroniecki, in hopes of covering the costs of medical bills, which can be found by searching the key terms: "Help Ruth Recover So She Can Still Help Others."

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