Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was one of several hikers in the right place at the right time over the weekend when they helped save the life of 72-year old hiker Dan Smoker Sr. after he suffered a terrible fall.
Among the other hikers who witnessed the fall were McCaffrey, his brothers Max and Dylan, and their friend Michael Mann, a former football player at Duke. When they saw the fall, they rushed to help.
“It felt like he was in the air for 10 seconds,” recalls McCaffrey. “I had never seen anything quite like that in my life as far as the trauma and the sound. We were in shock.”
Another group of hikers who saw the fall also came to help. One of the hikers helped to stabilize Smoker’s neck. At one point, Smoker stopped breathing, prompting Mann to perform chest compressions until he started breathing again.
Meanwhile, the other hikers comforted Eli, who was in shock after his grandfather’s fall. One of them gave Eli a phone so he could call his parents, who were in San Diego at the time.
Paramedics eventually arrived to take Smoker to a hospital. In the fall, he suffered a broken femur, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine broken ribs, and a broken neck. As of Tuesday, he was in critical but stable condition, and the Smoker family expects him to survive his injuries thanks to the hikers who came to his aid.
After the incident, Christian stayed in touch with Eli to check up on his grandfather’s condition. On Tuesday, Christian, Max, and Mann visited the Smoker family in the hospital.
“I truly believe they saved my dad’s life,” says Dan Smoker Jr. “My dad has a very, very long road ahead of him, but the doctors at this point have shifted from, ‘If he recovers,’ to ‘when he recovers.’ But without them, we would have never been here right now.”