Clay Chastain of Indianopolis fell anywhere, near 50 to 70 ft. inside the volcano and his fall was broken by the vegetation there.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 18, 2019. It has since been updated.
Clay and Acaimie Chastain were having a great honeymoon trip in idyllic St. Kitts, a Caribbean island, which looks like paradise on Earth when the mishap took place. They had hoped for a lovely time there but Clay fell into a dormant volcano and was later rescued by his 5'2 wife.
They had flown to the island for a week-long holiday after getting married in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Clay spent almost a week at a hospital in St. Kitts and couldn't fly in a commercial flight on the way back.
Four days after reaching the island, on July 18, the newlywed couple hiked two miles up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on the island. There were no other hikers around them and they did it without a guide, according to Indystar. He wanted to go down the volcano to look at the vegetation inside. Acaimie, who was afraid of doing the downward climb, stayed back.
"One second I’m climbing, the next second the world is spinning, and I can hear her calling down to me," Clay told IndyStar. He thinks that the rope he had held onto snapped, but he has no memory of the fall. He only remembers his wife calling out to him after he had fallen, asking if he was fine. He added that there was bloody vomit next to him.
What happened next is a tale of heroism. His wife may be a small person but she showed presence of mind and bodily strength. She tried to call someone for help but there was no cell reception at the height of 1,156 meters. Despite her fear, she climbed down to bring him back all by herself. As she climbed down, she found his cellphone case, then the cellphone, and his orange bandana.
"I was freaking out about what I was going to find at the bottom," she told IndyStar. Once she reached him, she told him, "We're going to have to be strong. We're going to have to climb out of here."
In a Facebook post, he said, "Acaimie guessed in total with free fall and tumbling down the hill, which was extremely steep at about 60-70 degrees, I fell for about 50-70 feet. It's honestly amazing thanks to God's help that my injuries were not worse I'm feeling fine now though. My wife Acaimie is extremely strong and managed to help me back up out of the volcano crater and down the trail up it's side untill we got signal which was about 2 miles while I was collapsing and vomiting blood the entire way (which apparently was just coming from lacerations in my mouth and nose)."
He got lucky and did not have any severe injuries, which could have easily happened given how far he fell. It is believed that his fall was broken by the vegetation.
"It was a miracle that he was able to support himself for as long as he did with the injuries he had," Acaimie said.
He suffered a slight fracture in the base of his skull, cracked vertebrae, and a severe concussion. "I can still move my head around, but the skull fracture caused air to go into my skull which won't allow me to fly commercially and it's making my right ear go deaf because the air is pressured right behind it but it's only temporary they think. We're organizing transport to the US through low flying emergency aircraft to avoid high pressure and Acaimie has done a great job managing all this. Thank you so much for the love and support," he added.
They later flew back in a medical flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to the Independent.