‘Wrong place, right time’: Getting lost led Poland hiker to man needing help

Local News

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Thomas Zebrasky lives in Poland with his dog, Sprocket. Last week, this duo — and a wrong turn — played a huge part in saving a man’s life.

It happened while they were hiking in the Kentucky Red River Gorge last Thursday. Sprocket was the first to notice something was wrong.

“He stopped dead in his tracks and looking the other way,” Zebrasky said.

When Sprocket stopped, a rescue mission began.

“Wait. Quiet, quiet, quiet and we heard a thing — you know, ‘Help! Hey guys! Hey guys! Help, I fell,'” Zebrasky said.

A man in his early 70s slipped off a boulder and broke his ankle when he fell into the creek below.

“So now here he is. He’s soaking wet, he’s on his back, he can’t get up,” Zebrasky said.

He and his three friends ran down to get the man, who was alert and awake, yelling out trail names and locations.

“Somebody needs to go and get search and rescue, that is my only way out,” Zebrasky said.

He said there was no cell phone service and all he kept thinking was how they were going to get the man out.

One of Zebrasky’s friends finally got one bar of cell service and called 911.

A group of them stayed with the man while Zebrasky and the others hiked a mile back to the trailhead to meet the rescue team. He used his Google location tracker to get the exact coordinates to lead them to the man.

Search and rescue said the man was extremely lucky, with temperatures dropping into the 30s.

“If we didn’t find them by probably early morning, he would have died of hypothermia,” Zebrasky said.

It took eight hours for the man to be rescued.

Zebrasky said the craziest part of it all was that they had made a wrong turn earlier in their hike, going the opposite way of their original plan.

“The thing that stuck with everybody was wrong place, right time.”

But it seems like Zebrasky and his friends were supposed to be there after all.

“I don’t know, but it’s incredible. It’s weird how things work out,” he said.

Zebrasky said the man had a triple compound fracture in his ankle and will be having surgery next week. Other than that, he’s doing alright.

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