Watch CBS News

EXCLUSIVE: Iraq War Amputee Survives After Getting Caught In Avalanche

HOLBROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- An Iraq War veteran from Long Island who lost a leg in a bombing again cheated death after being caught in an avalanche.

Keith Zeier was climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire two weeks ago to raise money for veterans just like him when an avalanche hit, causing him to slide 800 feet down the mountain.

"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 CBS 2's Cindy Hsu exclusively.

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.

Zeier lost his leg to an IED blast in Iraq where he served as reconnaissance Marine.

Ever since he was wounded on the battlefield, 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.

The climb up Mount Washington was a fundraiser for the group.

"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 CBS 2's Hsu.

He and a fellow climber created the group "Ascent of Honor" to inspire people to get involved with wounded veterans.

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 CBS 2's Hsu.

But her birthday is coming up next month and she has one wish, Hsu reported.

"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," Keith Zeier told Hsu.

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.

Please share your comments below...

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.