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Only On CBS2: Rescue Crews Reach Injured Hiker Just In Time To Save His Life

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE (CBS2) — Rescue crews reached an injured hiker in the Angeles National Forest Thursday just in time to save his life.

Leiland Merritt, 23, was hiking near Mount Wilson at approximately 3 p.m. when he lost his footing. He fell 200 feet, sliding down ice, into a stream.

Leland Merritt
(credit: CBS)

"I said, 'Oh, no, I got it,' and then the next thing I said was, 'No!'" Merritt told CBS2/KCAL9's Rob Schmitt.

"I did not think I was going to end up well in the end. I thought horrible injuries or worse," Merritt said.

He sustained minor cuts and bruises.

"I could move, my neck worked fine, I could move," Merritt said.

The friend who was with Merritt walked the mile-and-a-half to a restaurant near the Angeles Crest Highway, where he called for help.

It took nearly three hours before the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team -- comprised of volunteers -- and the Montrose Search and Rescue crew located Merritt below Pleasant View Ridge trail.

The Pasadena resident had a jacket and some food but his clothes were wet. Rescuers said the hiker would have died from the cold had they not reached him Thursday night.

"Well, he had fallen a couple hundred feet down an ice chute and, when we got there, he was lodged into an area he couldn't get out of,"  said Doug Cramoline of Montrose Search and Rescue. "He's very fortunate to have survived it, and, if we hadn't have found him, I don't know if he would've survived the night due to the cold."

Merritt was rescued from the trail at around 8 p.m. and was able to walk out on his own.

"I'm excited. I have a few phone calls. I have to tell my mother I love her before I go to bed," the hiker said.

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