This is a story where the main subject here is lucky to be alive. Having hiked and climbed in this area, there are plenty of places where people can cliff out and fall. So this is both a story of amazing fortune and caution. It’s written by one of our reporters at The Oklahoman. Have a read:
Harrah teen falls down mountain, lives to tell tale
BY MATT DINGER
LAWTON — The ground slid from beneath Sam Raglin’s feet, and he said he began to pray as he tumbled down Elk Mountain on Thursday morning.
Raglin, 18, of Harrah, came to about 10 or 15 minutes later. He had fallen about 25 feet down the mountain at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, suffering a serious head injury along the way.
“I was just trying to find the quickest way to the top, and I got a little ahead of myself,” Sam Raglin said.
Friend Jamen Nowka said: “I heard some scuffling, and I hear something like someone had lost their footing, nothing big. It didn’t sound like anything bad and then I hear my friend Chris say, ‘Sam fell. Sam fell, and it’s bad.’”
Nowka was one of six friends with Raglin that day. They have all known each other since preschool, Nowka said.
“I got to Sam first. It was a real steep part. You had to really work to stand there. I get to him, and there’s blood running down his head. He’s unconscious and was making heavy breathing sounds,” he said.
Two other friends were also able to get Raglin, who was pointed down the mountain and lying on his stomach. They flipped him over and began treating him with a first-aid kit they had with them.
A friend lower on the mountain made a call with his cell phone, and Nowka grabbed the phone as he scrambled down the mountain to meet park rangers and paramedics where their vehicle was parked.
They all hiked back to Raglin with medical supplies, but after seeing the terrain, an Army National Guard helicopter was brought in to lift him out of the area and into a medical helicopter.
He was taken to OU Medical Center, from where he was discharged Saturday afternoon, mother Anita Raglin said.
“From the top of his head to the tip of his toes, he has injuries,” she said.
A fractured skull, bleeding in the brain, a pair of punctured lungs and a broken pelvis are among the worst of his injuries, she said.
“He’s healing fast. It’s quite a miracle, really,” Anita Raglin said. “The people that were down there at the mountain really did not expect him to make it.”
Raglin said he got to a point where it would have been harder to go backward than forward, but unsteady footing sent him tumbling down the mountain. He had landed on a ledge, just feet from another 30-foot drop.
By the time paramedics trekked up the mountain, Sam Raglin had been at the accident site more than five hours, Anita Raglin said.
“They were in the roughest, most isolated part of the park which is that Elk Mountain,” she said.
He surprised doctors, family and the emergency personnel who rescued him by getting onto his feet the next day. He’s been ordered to two weeks of down time while his injuries heal.
“I had so many injuries, and not a single one of them needed surgery or anything like that. I’m really just not in a tremendous amount of pain,” Sam Raglin said.
Everything that happened to him could have killed him, but it didn’t and that’s amazing,” Nowka said.
Anita Raglin said she was impressed by how the former boyhood friends, now men, handled the ordeal.
“They stepped up and acted like men who knew what they were doing,” Anita Raglin said.
This wasn’t the first tragedy to befall the Raglin family this year. A tornado in May destroyed the family home, which was built in Harrah 25 years ago.