Panthers' Christian McCaffrey helps save hiker who fell off Colorado rock

Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Football

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey helped save the life of a fellow hiker in Colorado on Saturday.

McCaffrey, his brothers Dylan and Max, and two friends were about to go to lunch when they decided on a whim to hike Castle Rock, the Panthers star told the team's by phone on Tuesday.

The rock is a castle tower-shaped butte near the center of its namesake town between Denver and Colorado Springs.

McCaffrey said he called 911 when he saw a man fall about 20 feet onto a rock.

"It felt like he was in the air for 10 seconds," McCaffrey told "I had never seen anything quite like that in my life as far as the trauma and the sound. We were in shock."

The injured man, Dan Smoker Sr., had been hiking with his 13-year-old grandson, Eli Smoker.

McCaffrey said that while he called for help, an onlooker kept the man's head still. One of McCaffrey's friends performed chest compressions when the man appeared to stop breathing.

Because of the rescuers, "My 13-year-old son isn't telling a story about how he went on a hike with his grandpa and his grandpa died," Dan Smoker Jr. tweeted. "He's telling a story of strength, hope, and human goodness."

"Everybody stepped up," McCaffrey said. "I called 911, and it felt like an eternity. It felt like we were up there waiting for four hours. But I looked back at my call log and it took 11 minutes before the paramedics came. Amazing what those guys did."

The 72-year-old man had a broken femur and pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine broken ribs and a broken neck, according to McCaffrey. The man is in critical but stable condition.

McCaffrey, his mom and brothers visited Dan Smoker at the hospital the next day.

"It's such a ... I don't know what you'd call it," McCaffrey told "Truly a blessing that we turned the corner at that exact moment and we could be there for him."

McCaffrey attended Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. He broke numerous Colorado high school records, was the Gatorade Football Player of the Year for Colorado in both 2012 and 2013 and also was a standout sprinter on the track & field team.

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