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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. - Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey helped rescue a 72-year-old man who fell 20 feet onto a rock while hiking along a Colorado trail Saturday.
“We were going to go to lunch,” McCaffrey said on the Panthers’ website. “And then just randomly we were like, ‘Let’s go hike the rock.’”
McCaffrey, two of his brothers and two friends were at Castle Rock hiking when they saw Dan Smoker Sr. fall. Smoker's 13-year-old grandson, Eli, also was on the hike and witnessed the ordeal.
“It felt like he was in the air for 10 seconds,” McCaffrey said. “I had never seen anything quite like that in my life as far as the trauma and the sound. We were in shock.”
They called 911 for help. Smoker was seriously injured and his breathing stopped. They started performing chest compressions on the man.
Paramedics arrived in about 11 minutes.
Smoker was taken to the hospital with a broken femur, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine fractured ribs and a broken neck.
He was in critical but stable condition Tuesday.
A day after the accident, McCaffrey, along with his brothers and mother, visited Smoker in the hospital.
“They introduced themselves and I still hadn’t pieced it together,” said Smoker's son, Dan. “I can’t say I’d recognize Christian without his football gear on. Around here, Valor Christian is a popular high school, and I knew that Ed McCaffrey had just taken over as head coach there. We were talking and they had mentioned that they went to Valor, and we were looking there because our son loves football as well."
“One of the things that amazed me the most was just the humility,” Dan Smoker said. “It was not about, ‘Look at who I am.’ They just wanted to make sure we were OK. That was it. They wanted to see how my son was doing.”
McCaffrey continues to text back and forth with Smoker’s son following the incident.
"It’s such a -- I don’t know what you’d call it. Truly a blessing that we turned the corner at that exact moment and we could be there for him. I don’t know what would have happened. We were lucky to be at the right place at the right time.”