Colo. firefighters use extrication tools to free man from boulder

Firefighters used spreaders and air bags to move a 1,800 boulder off of a man's leg

By Joe Rubino
The Daily Camera

BOULDER, Colo. — A 27-year-old man was freed from beneath a "washing machine-sized" boulder on Flagstaff Mountain this afternoon thanks to 25 to 30 rescue workers and some creative rescue techniques, officials said.

Andrew Chapman was rock climbing on the mountain with his girlfriend when his leg became pinned under a boulder estimated to weigh 1,800 pounds, Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said.

Police received an emergency call about Chapman's situation around 1:35 p.m., Kobel said. Between 25 and 30 personnel from the Boulder Fire Department, Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and Boulder Parks and Open Space responded, she said.

Because of the size of the boulder, Kobel said, rescuers had to use some creativity in order to free Champan from beneath it.

"They needed to pull the boulder up and off his leg, but they only needed to move it a few inches," Kobel said. "But it was so heavy they basically had to jerry-rig a device in order to move that boulder a few inches."

Ropes, the "jaws of life" and what firefighters refer to as "lifting airbags" were used to set up a sort of pulley system to move the boulder, Kobel said. The location where Chapman became trapped was approximately 3.2 miles up Flagstaff, Kobel said, but vehicles could not make it all the way up to the site so equipment had to be carried the final 1/2 mile.

Chapman was transported to Boulder Community Hospital with at least a knee injury, Kobel said. An operator in the emergency room confirmed Chapman was there this afternoon, but would not comment on his condition.

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