Mark McMorris‘ life was in danger after the snowboarder crashed into an area of trees riding in the backcountry in British Columbia on Saturday, according to Postmedia News, quoting older brother Craig.
Craig was there when McMorris, the Sochi slopestyle bronze medalist, suffered a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.
McMorris was found conscious, but he was struggling to breathe with blood in his mouth, according to Canadian media.
“You can die from that, from bleeding out,” Craig said, according to Postmedia News. “But it was so hard for him to breathe, so that was my biggest concern with time. I communicated that to the search and rescue, and that’s why they got there as fast as they possibly could. Mark knew it was super bad. I knew it was super bad. But you just have to think positive, and that’s why he is still here.
More details of the rescue, via Postmedia News:
Craig McMorris and a handful of friends on site peeled off their jackets to create a nest for the injured Olympian. The couldn’t move him for fear of a spinal cord injury, and hypothermia was a real danger while waiting about 90 minutes for search and rescue personnel to arrive. Every minute counted due to the ruptured spleen.
“I’ve been involved in backcountry rescues before,” Craig said, according to the Canadian Press. “This was by far the gnarliest and most severe.”
An airlift to a hospital, two surgeries and two days later, McMorris was looking more upbeat in his hospital bed on both brothers’ Instagram pages Monday.
He has been named to Canada’s Olympic team for PyeongChang, and Craig believes he will be there to compete. Before the accident, McMorris was considered a gold-medal threat in slopestyle and the new event of big air.
“It’s been 48 hours, and he’s gone from being the most broken human to talking and communicating,” Craig said, according to Postmedia News. “In his mind, he’s going to the Olympics. In my mind, he’s going to the Olympics. There’s no reason why he can’t.”
McMorris has come back from injury before, but not this severe.
He won bronze in the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi, competing 12 days after breaking a rib.
He has already come back in this Olympic cycle from breaking his right femur in an Air and Style big air run in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2016.
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