'There are so many ways I could have died'
Updated On: Nov 29 2013 09:07:56 PM CST
The Redding 15-year-old who survived a treacherous fall, serious injuries and a night alone in freezing temperatures describes how it all happened.
Siarah Chapman, known as Gracie to her friends and family, spent Monday night stranded along the Sacramento River after tumbling about 80 feet off a cliff.
"Normally, I stay really far away from the edge, but this time I wasn't really paying attention and I went like way too close," recalled Chapman.
"I kind of slid down to where there were some little bushes, and then I was trying to get out of those, and then I kind of tumbled the rest of the way down. That's when I landed on the rocks, you know, got all cut up and stuff,” explained the teen.
That steep fall ended with a crushing impact.
"I had an open wound in my head. So I have some staples, like five staples in it now," said Chapman, as she gingerly touched her scalp.
She also fractured her thumb, and sustained scrapes and cuts all over her body.
While at the bottom of the red cliffs, she spotted a well-known landmark, and decided to walk toward it, in search of help.
"I figured if I could get to the Sundial Bridge, then there would be someone who could help me," explained Chapman.
But that narrow path by the river had run out.
"By then it was getting dark, and I was starting to get really, really cold,” said Chapman.
She had only worn sweatpants and a tank top when she tumbled off the side of the cliff. She removed her sweater and wrapped it around her head, to help stop the bleeding caused by the fall.
During this time, her parents had frantically started calling the Redding Police Department. The CHP sent out a helicopter to search for the teen. Chapman said she could see the chopper, but it never spotted her.
"It was like the longest night I've ever had," recalled Chapman.
That’s when she realized just how dire the situation really was. So, she says she began to pray throughout the night.
When the sun finally broke, and the freezing temperatures subsided, the teen prayed one more time to be saved.
"At that point I was kind of scared that no one was going to find me and that I might not make it,” said Chapman.
At that moment, she heard then saw a boat, carrying the crew that would rescue her.
"It was really hard to move. By that time I was able to get a little bit closer and I called to them, and my voice was pretty loud, and they stopped. One of them kind of got out and got into the water, cause it's really shallow, and called to me like ‘Who are you? Do you need help?’ and I said ‘Yes, I need help’ and they came over and I was just totally relieved,” recalled Chapman.
Her rescuers warmed her with towels. One even wrapped her in his jacket.
"I don’t know how to thank them really, I mean I really want to thank them because they basically, they saved my life pretty much," chuckled Chapman.
The teen’s body temperature had dipped from the cold overnight chill. Her temperature measured just 70 degrees. Humans should naturally hover around 98 degrees.
"It was totally a miracle, I mean, the more I think about it, the more I go over what actually happened, I'm like oh my gosh, there are so many ways I could have died, and I didn't," said Chapman with a smile.
She and her family are thankful she put up such a brave fight.
"When I was alone, I was missing them so much and I was a little scared that I might never see them again,” said Chapman.
The teen said she’s still sore from the steep fall.
Chapman and her family hope she will feel well enough to leave the hospital on Friday.
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