By Greg Norman, ,
Published March 07, 2018
A pro-football playing family and their friends are being hailed as heroes for helping save the life of a Colorado grandfather who fell around 20 feet in a startling scene that unfolded over the weekend during a hike with his grandson.
Christian McCaffrey, a Carolina Panthers running back, says he was hiking Saturday in Castle Rock when he turned a corner and saw Dan Smoker, Sr., plunge onto a rock.
“It felt like he was in the air for 10 seconds,” McCaffrey told the team’s website. “I had never seen anything quite like that in my life as far as the trauma and the sound. We were in shock.”
McCaffrey, who was with his brothers Max, a San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, and Dylan, a Michigan University quarterback, then rushed to help along with friends Michael Mann and Brooke Pettet.
A bystander named Chris helped Smoker keep his head still while Mann performed chest compressions but the 72-year-old grandfather stopped breathing.
“Everybody stepped up,” McCaffrey told Panthers.com. “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.”
Doctors who treated Smoker, Sr. say he suffered a broken femur, pelvis and neck, fractured nine of his ribs and was bleeding internally, including on the brain.
“I credit them with saving my dad’s life,” his son, Dan, told the Panthers’ website.
Dan was celebrating his 15th wedding anniversary in San Diego during the incident and got word of his father’s fall from his 13-year-old son, Eli.
“I heard what sounded like a shoe slipping on some rock and then I heard him say, oh, like it sounded like his voice and I turn around about halfway through his fall and I see him hit the ground,” Eli Smoker told KDVR.
"It could've been I went on a hike and my grandpa died but instead it's I went on a hike and some professional football players helped my grandpa," he added.
Smoker, Sr. is currently in critical but stable condition and was visited by the players in the hospital on Sunday.
“One of the things that amazed me the most was just the humility,” Dan Smoker Jr., told Panthers.com. “It was not about, ‘Look at who I am.’ They just wanted to make sure we were OK. That was it. They wanted to see how my son was doing.”
The Panthers say McCaffrey is still exchanging text messages with Eli.
“We all took it upon ourselves to check up on that kid,” McCaffrey said. “It could be a lifelong bond between us. He experienced a lot in those five minutes.”