Alabama Man Sustains Life-Threatening Injures After Falling Twice Near Waterfall and Survives

Roden seen in hospital bed with neck brace

Twenty-one-year-old Zac Roden sustained several serious injuries after 2 consecutive falls during a hike with a friend, but managed to survive.

An Alabama man sustained serious injuries after two consecutive incidents during a visit to Welcome Falls, according to local paper The Cullen Times.

Zac Roden took a trip with his friend Candace Siler on June 2, a few days before his 21 birthday, to show her Welcome Falls for the first time, according to the outlet. 

Siler said their hike to the creekbed near the bottom of the falls was peaceful. She told the outlet she paused to look at a white sign with red lettering nailed to a tree that read “Warning: Slippery Rocks.”

The two reached the falls and when looking for a pathway back down, Siler told the outlet that mere moments after she warned Roden about walking so close to the edge, he lost his footing.

“When I looked over he had somehow landed on this tiny ledge, I still don’t know how that happened. If he had fallen even a centimeter in either direction he would have missed it,” Siler said to the outlet.

According to the outlet, Siler’s efforts to call 911 were squandered by poor cell reception. She asked Roden to be still until she could get to him, but he attempted to get up and fell off the ledge.

Roden told the outlet that he was barely conscious and does not remember much from his first fall. He just recalls Silas calling down to him.

“I just remember seeing light and hearing a voice yelling at me, but that was when I rolled over the ledge,” Roden said.

This second fall was 35 feet, leaving Roden at the bottom of the falls with potentially life-threatening injuries, according to the outlet.

Siler, a former lifeguard, was able to make it safely to Roden and assessed his injuries. She told the outlet that Roden continued to say he was alright and did not want her to call 911, even though she felt broken ribs and could see that his entire right side was bruised.

“I was afraid I was going to be stuck down there, I remember several years ago a guy fell and broke his leg and was out there overnight until they had to airlift him out," Roden said to the outlet.

"So Candace, even though she had never been there before, made her way down to me and we crawled out. You know just her pushing me a little at a time," he continued.

“When we finally made it to the car I guess the adrenaline had worn off because I just collapsed and said I’m hurt pretty bad,” Roden said.

According to the outlet, during the tenuous hike back to the car, Roden had three seizures, but was still insisting they go home — Silas shut down his request.

Silas told the outlet she managed to find the highway that led to the hospital in Cullen, telling her friend he had “lost his right to choose to go home.”

After having a collapsed lung re-inflated and spending five days in the UAB’s Intensive Care Unit, Roden was transferred to the Spain Rehab facility for another week and a half, according to The Cullen Times.

In addition to his seven broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Roden’s injuries included a broken neck, hand, sternum, and both sides of his pelvis, according to the outlet.

Roden, a server for Logan’s Steakhouse without health insurance, was recently was able to remove his neck brace but has not been able to return to his job, according to the outlet.

A friend and fellow Welcome Falls accident survivor Stephanie Whatley set up a GoFundMe account for his medical expenses, which currently has earned a little over $1,000 of its $25,000 goal. 

Whatley suffered a fall in 1991 and posted on the fundraiser page saying, “​​As a fellow survivor of a waterfall, I understand some of the mental trauma he is going through.”

According to the outlet, one office visit to treat just his hand injury was $4,000.

“He will be out of work for 10 to 12 weeks. He has started rehaab but the neck injury and all the chest breaks are the longest to recover from much less all at once,” Whatley posted on the GoFundMe page.

“He is recovering with family but could really use help with funds. He needs special equipment for his mobility too.”

Roden and Silas told the outlet that they consider him lucky, even with the financial challenges.

“I mean I’m lucky to be alive. Even the doctors were saying that it was a miracle that I’m even here,” he said.

“It still just blows my mind, people just don’t survive falls like he did,” Silas said.

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