Man who got help for injured friends tells heroic story - KMSP-TV

Man who got help for injured friends tells heroic story

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APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -

Their truck plunged 250 feet off a cliff, east of the valley. We spoke to the man who climbed up the canyon in his bare feet to get everyone help.

AJ Ritchie was bleeding and had a huge gash on his head. Still, he hiked up the canyon and walked down the road in complete darkness. It took him almost six hours to get help. But he saved his friends lives.

"They were amazed when they did full X-rays and CT scans I didn't crack anything"

Eight staples in his head, but no broken bones. AJ Ritchie was asleep in the truck when it skidded off a 250-foot cliff.

"I woke up when we were in the air and I felt myself lift off the seat."

When the truck stopped, AJ looked around and saw his girlfriend awake and crying, his buddy behind the wheel unconscious, and another friend thrown out of the truck seriously hurt.

"She had facial trauma so I took off some pillow cases from a pillow and I held it around the bleeding."

AJ knew had no choice but to climb up the cliff, through cactus and rock, barefoot. He didn't have a cell phone to call for help.

"You're not really thinking about it at the time. The goal is, I have to get to the top of this hill. I have to get to the road. We were so far down there, people could have drove by all day and not see us."

AJ spent 7 years in the military. His training proved invaluable.

"My first appointment to Iraq I learned you have to stay calm in situations like that cause otherwise people lose their lives."

After walking around for almost six hours, AJ finally got a hiker's attention. That hiker had a car and picked AJ up, driving him to Tortilla Flat. Rescue crews say his 3 friends might not be alive today if it wasn't for AJ.

"It was a group effort, it was surreal and hopefully we don't do it again, but we're all very happy to be alive and well."

Remarkably everyone is out of the hospital and recovering.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. AJ says he thinks his buddy may have fallen asleep, but the friend doesn't remember what happened.

Follow this story: Man goes for help after truck plunges 250 ft. off cliff


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