A 13-year-old Idaho boy is being called a hero for keeping his dad alive for more than two days after he was struck by a falling boulder and was badly injured.
Charlie Winsted Finlayson and his dad, David Finalyson, 52, were on a two-week backpacking trip in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness when the incident occurred on August 17.
“The plan was 12 days and we were going to just climb, fly fish a little bit, backpack,” Charlie told NBC station KTVB.
A week into the trip, Charlie and his dad were rock climbing when a refrigerator-sized boulder broke loose and hit his dad.
“The boulder fell on him and then he kind of tumbled down like 20 or 30 more feet.”
Charlie’s dad was badly injured. The 52-year-old had broken his back, left arm, and left heel. The father had a gash on his left leg so deep that the bone was exposed.
“If the boulder had landed on me, I’d be dead for sure,” Finlayson told Good Morning America.
Charlie, a Boy Scout, quickly calmed his nerves and sprung into action.
“At first I was freaking out a little bit, but after a few minutes I kind of calmed down and thought I have to help him out and get his sleeping bag and stuff.”
The 13-year-old grabbed the first aid kit, dressed his father’s wounds and kept him hydrated. He ran back to their campsite a mile away and brought his father warm clothes and a sleeping bag to keep him warm during the cold night.
“He was kind of getting hypothermic because he had lost so much blood.”
The next day, Charlie continued to keep his dad fed and hydrated, and the two attempted to return to the campsite. For hours, Finalyson dragged himself over boulders.
“At the end of the day, he said he was in the most pain he had ever felt in his life.”
“He was my savior,” Finalyson told the Idaho Statesman. “He just kind of coached me along with the pain and tried to help me not pass out. He kept talking to me all night.”
The 13-year-old circled the area searching for help, but he found no one. Charlie and his dad decided that Charlie would have to make the 13-mile hike back to find help.
Finlayson wrote a note explaining the situation in hopes that his son would find help.
The note read, “My name is David Finlayson. This is my son Charlie. A large boulder fell on me 3 days ago. I have a broken arm (left), broken ankle (left), and a large open wound on my left leg. I believe the bleeding is under control. I cannot walk so I need a rescue unfortunately. Please help Charlie find one for me.”
Charlie was scared he wasn’t going to find anyone.
“He was just afraid to leave me because he didn’t know…didn’t know if he’d see me again,” said Finlayson.
Three miles into his journey to find help, Charlie was fortunate enough to run into two hikers that happened to be members of his Mormon church.
The two hikers went to stay with Charlie’s dad, and Charlie continued looking for help. Charlie found another man who ran eight miles to find help. The 13-year-old hiked the rest of the 13-mile trail.
Finlayson was airlifted to a hospital, and Charlie was taken home by a sheriff’s deputy.
— Idaho Statesman (@IdahoStatesman) August 26, 2015
Charlie’s dad has had two surgeries and told KTVB he would need more. He credits his survival to his son.
“He’s a tough kid.”
Charlie’s mother, Katie Wilstead, said she’s not surprised by her son’s heroic actions. “It’s just who he is. It’s nothing I did. It’s how he came,” she said.
Charlie and his father say they are already planning their next trip, but they plan on packing a radio this time in case of an emergency.
What do you think of this 13-year-old’s heroic actions?
[Image via Katie Wilstead]