'Thought it was a nightmare': Mount Baldy crash survivor recalls harrowing rescue

Friday, February 10, 2017 01:12PM
Hunter Kittle shared his three-day survival story on Mount Baldy that followed a horrific car crash.


MOUNT BALDY, Calif. - Rescued after spending three days alone on Mount Baldy following a car crash, 24-year-old Hunter Kittle recalled the harrowing story.

"I thought it was a nightmare, but it was reality," Kittle said.

On Jan. 22, his Toyota 4Runner veered off Mount Baldy and plummeted 70-feet downhill before slamming into a tree.

"It was really scary just not knowing if this was going to be the end... The bone sticking out of my leg. I was in so much pain," Kittle recalled.

MORE: Man rescued after car goes off side of road near Mount Baldy

Kittle said that on the third day, he was going in and out of consciousness when he heard a stranger's voice.

"He walked down and then saw me. He ran back up to his car and got me a little bit of water that he had in his car and alerted the authorities," Kittle said.

He was later carried on a stretcher up the mountain before being airlifted to a hospital.

His grandmother, Phyllis van Essen, was amazed to hear the conditions Kittle had survived.

"It's a miracle really, after finding out that he was down there three nights and it was freezing cold," she said.

Kittle's injuries include a collapsed lung, multiple skull fractures, and a broken arm and leg. He has undergone five surgeries and was scheduled for a sixth on Friday.

"I'm just hoping that we can save the leg. It's still not for sure," Kittle said.

The investigation was closed, and according to the California Highway Patrol, weather conditions on that day were cloudy and rainy. Kittle said alcohol was not involved.

From his hospital bed, Kittle shared that he felt lucky to be alive and hopes to one day find the man who he said saved his life.

"I am eternally grateful," Kittle said.

His family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with hospital cost.

"I don't think there is a way to describe how amazing it feels to be here still," Kittle said.
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