Hiker survives against all odds after crawling for days with broken leg and wrist

An Australian hiker is fortunate to be alive today after he fell down a cliff while scaling a waterfall on Sunday. Neil Parker’s left leg “clean snapped in half” and his left wrist was also broken. Alone on his hike, Parker realized his only chance at survival was to save himself.

Parker explained he was about 20 feet up a waterfall he’d climbed before when the ground suddenly gave way. He tumbled down the rock face and landed in the creek below the falls.

“Straight away I thought, ‘Well, now I’m in a lot of trouble,’” he admitted.

Hiking Alone

Parker’s planned hike was only supposed to take about three hours. As a longtime member of an Australian bushwalking club, heading out for a solo hike was nothing new for the 54-year-old.

However, despite being an experienced hiker, Parker didn’t let anyone know where he was going before he left.

“I hadn’t told anybody where I was going,” Parker said. “I had no way of contacting anyone to tell them where I was or how I was or anything like that, so it was the worst possible scenario.”

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The waterfall disaster was about an hour and 40 minutes into his hike.

“I’m thinking, ‘Only way I’m going to get rescued is self-rescue,’” he explained. “I knew where I was located there was no way they were going to be able to find me.”

The Mount Nebo area near Brisbane is fairly remote. And even though Parker had his cell phone with him, the area has no cell service.

Crawling for Days to Survive

With no cell service, no personal beacon and no other option, Parker forced his broken body to move across the Australian terrain to get help.

Using bandages and his hiking poles, Parker was able to splint his useless leg.

“I had to carry my leg and legs are very heavy when they’re not connected to anything,” he said. “I’d get about a meter, a meter and a half each time before I had to stop and take a break.”

Thankfully, he’d supplied his backpack with some food. Rationing his food along the way, he survived on a handful of nuts, a protein bar, and lollipops.

When the winter temperature dropped at night, he wrapped himself in thermal clothing he packed. And when the pain got too severe, he took pain relievers he smartly carried.

Survival of the Fittest

It’s a testament to Parker’s fitness of body and mind that he kept going for two days before someone found him.

But Parker says he had his moments of despair while trying to survive.

“I was getting very emotional thinking this is not a nice way to die,” he revealed, “just lying there, waiting, waiting.”

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Rescued at Last

What Parker didn’t know is that people were out looking for him. On Monday, his boss contacted his ex-wife when he didn’t show up for work. She contacted Parker’s sisters and then a group, including Parker’s fellow bushwalkers, began a search.

On Tuesday, Queensland Government Air started searching a larger area by helicopter. And that’s when Parker was spotted.

At around 10:30 in the morning, a rescue crew member spotted Parker, “laying in a creek bed, under quite heavy tree canopy and waving a coloured object.”

Parker’s surgeons say they’re amazed he was able to survive.

“I’ve never heard of any such survival effort with two broken limbs,” orthopedic surgeon Nicola Ward told the press on Wednesday.

Lessons Learned

For his part, Parker says his backpack of supplies was his lifesaver.

“Everything I had in my kit was used,” he said. “If I didn’t have a single piece of it, it would have made it a lot harder. It made a difference between getting out in this condition and probably not.”

He also says he doesn’t plan to let his harrowing ordeal keep him from hiking again.

“I’m pretty confident that I’ll get back out there,” he said. “I may not choose to do some more extreme stuff in the future moving forward, but it is my nature to be adventurous and want to give things a go.”

And, hopefully, in the future, he’ll always let someone know when and where he’s hiking.

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