HOLBROOK, N.Y. An Iraq War veteran from Long Island who lost a leg to an IED blast cheated death after being caught in an avalanche.
Former Marine Keith Zeier was climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire two weeks ago to raise money for wounded veterans when an avalanche hit, causing him and two other members of his team to slide 800 feet down the mountain's ice-covered Huntington Ravine.
"I just remember looking up and before I knew it, I was sliding. I was head down, feet up, sliding down the mountain," he told WCBS correspondent Cindy Hsu.
Zeier crawled two hours to make it to a rescue team after the avalanche hit.
His team of three all suffered leg injuries in the plunge down the mountain. Zeier also suffered a torn rotator cuff and cannot move the fingers on his right hand.
Due to his injuries from the fall, Zeier is temporarily unable to wear his prosthetic leg because he said his stump is too swollen.
Ever since Zeier wounded on the battlefield in Fallujah, his new mission has been to raise money and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which helps families of special ops forces killed and wounded in action.
Last summer, Zeier climbed Washington's Mount Rainier as part of an event with the organization Camp Patriot.
The climb up Mount Washington was a fundraiser for Ascents of Honor, a program Zeier and a fellow climber created to inspire people to get involved with wounded veterans.
"The military is such a strong part of my life and I would do anything to be back with my team and be in the fight, and now that I can't, this is the best way that I can still continue to help them out," Zeier told WCBS' Hsu.
His mother, Denise, said she couldn't be prouder.
"Whenever things get tough, I always think what he's been through and he's kind of like my hero. If he can get through something, then I have no right to complain," Denise Zeier told WCBS' Hsu.
But her birthday is coming up next month and she has one wish, as Keith Zeier told Hsu: "I did hear that she wants me to slow down and I think because of the injury, she'll at least get it this birthday, I can pull that one off."
But he added next year is a whole different story, because he plans to be back on his feet.
Along with climbing mountains, Zeier has raised thousands of dollars by running a 100-mile ultra-marathon in Florida.