UPDATE: Table Rock hiker fell about 20 feet, sustained serious head injury

An injured hiker was airlifted to the hospital Monday after he fell and hit his head while rock climbing. (Photo courtesy Fire District Three)

A hiker was airlifted from the top of the Upper Table Rock following a fall that left him with a serious head injury Monday, according to Fire District Three.

First responders received the emergency call around 3:30 Monday afternoon. Fire District Three and Mercy Flights responded to the trail head and hiked to where the patient was injured. According to FD3 Firefighter Andy Cardinel, the hiker was rock climbing when he tumbled.

"He said he was climbing up the rock and lost his footing, and lost his hand hold and slid down," said Cardinel.

News 10 spoke with two friends of the victim who saw the accident. They declined to go on camera, but said their friend had a head wound and was expected to be okay.

According to Cardinel, the hiker had fallen about 20 feet down a rock face.

"He was in a lot of pain," he said.

While Cardinel said the Mercy Flights helicopter was able to land easily on the flat top of the Table Rock plateau, emergency crews had a tougher time making it down to the victim. Because of the rock face, responders had to tie a rope to the helicopter and climb down to the hiker. The hiker was then secured and hoisted back to the helicopter, Cardinel said.

That process meant the helicopter did not take off until about two hours after the initial call. Following lift off, remaining rescuers still had to make the trek back down the Table Rock trail. For the firefighters, this was familiar territory.

Cardinel said District Three does rescue trainings on the Table Rocks about once a year. Additional trainings are conducted in recreational areas throughout the Rogue Valley.

"We try to move around to give us kind of different flavors at different places," he said. "Every place creates a different set of problems to overcome to create a good rescue."

Cardinel said hikers should be extremely careful when hiking the Table Rocks, noting that the rocks crumble and are often mossy. He advised that anyone planning on rock climbing should do so only with the proper equipment, including ropes, harnesses and helmets.

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