Washington runner with broken leg rescued after crawling on all fours for more than 10 hours


SEATTLE, WA (KIRO/CNN) — A miraculous story of survival. After slipping on ice a runner in Washington state breaks his leg while on a trail.He ended up crawling for hours until finally getting rescued.

Hours before help arrived Joseph Oldendorf said it “Feels like a weird dream.”

Joseph Oldendorf was in a fight for survival.

“My tibia completely snapped off that’s why it felt untethered because it was loose off the leg.”

He was miles into a run on the remote duckabush trail — west of hood canal — when he slipped on ice around 5:45pm friday and broke his leg.

Leaving him stranded with no cellphone service.

“I wasn’t counting on my phone ever working –I just figured this is my only chance – I’m gong to crawl all the way there.”

Joseph crawled until his knees were past raw.

“My ankle was in such shape that I couldn’t – I had to be facing chest down for it not to be flopping out of alignment so I had to crawl on all 4’s and my knees – it’s a rocky, snowy, dirty, wet trail and after a while my knees were just raw so I had the idea put my shoes over them so I would at least have some traction and a little bit of protection.”

After crawling nearly 7 hours — joseph said he was finally able to call 911 around 12:30 am.

But couldn’t let himself stop.

“I stopped to lay down and stay warm thinking they might be there relatively soon but I was way too cold, and there was no way I could do it without moving.”

Did you feat at any point, I mean if you didn’t keep crawling you would die?


Jerry Rule was in the rescue group that made it to Joseph first around 4:20 a.m. Friday — after a 4 and a half mile hike.

Jerry Rule says, “I wouldn’t expect that he probably would’ve been found, to be honest with you, in my past experience.”

“After evacuating him by helicopter, we only ran into only 2 other individuals and they were not going in as far as we were”

Joseph Oldendorf says, “It definitely makes you respect nature more.”

Joseph, who plans to one day hit the trails again, said the thought of his family kept him moving through the pain for all those hours.

Joseph Oldendorf/Injured Trail Runner

“I don’t want my family to hear I died in the wilderness, I think it’d be unbearable.”

The trail is on the east side of the olympic peninsula, roughly 50-miles away from seattle.

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