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SC: Hunter falls 20 feet from hunting stand, shatters back

October 21, 2010

Hunter falls 20 feet from hunting stand, shatters back

ROCK HILL, SC - Blake Coley is a hunter and lived every hunter's worst nightmare when he fell 20 feet from his tree stand.

The bottom piece fell off the self-climbing stand and Coley had to hang onto the gun rail for a few minutes before his grip slipped.

"I fell so fast it just compressed everything in my back and I shattered my vertebra," said Coley.

His vertebra was shattered because Coley landed feet first. When he hit the ground, he says he was temporarily paralyzed. He was lucky to have his cell phone with him so he could call for help.

"The doctor said it was like a bomb went off and they had to put three rods and five screws in my back," said Coley

Coley had been using a tree stand for three years before his accident, but never used a harness to strap himself to a tree.

"Never thought it would happen to me. Never bought a hundred-dollar harness, now I have a $7,500 dollar doctor bill," said Coley.

It is hunting season in South Carolina and Jeff Bolton at Nichoils Store in Rock Hill says there are a lot of hunters out in the woods that fall. Bolton says hunting accidents can be prevented.

"If you use all the precautions, like using the seat belt in a truck or a car, if you use the precautions it's a lot safer," said Bolton.

Bolton also says when you're hunting, especially in an area where you know there are other hunters in the woods, you need to wear the safety hunter's orange so you can stand out to other hunters.

The number one safety tip, Bolton says, is when hunting with a rifle - always treat it like it's loaded.

Coley has been out of work for a year because of his fall and still has pain from the accident. But Coley says breaking his back hasn't stopped him from hunting, but now he only hunts from the ground.

He has advice for those who do use tree stands. "Wear a harness.".

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