Mountain Miracle Takes Place In Colorado

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Miracles happen in life.

Clay Engel is lucky to be alive after suffering a skull fracture, fractured vertebra and leg injuries which required skin grafts during a serious hiking accident last summer.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound first baseman at Drury University had just finished his freshman season in 2017 with the Panthers and was preparing to play summer ball for the Denver Generals of the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League.

“I drove to Denver the last week in May and was really looking forward to being in that area of the country,” said Engel who is from Ozark, Mo.

“I was excited about being in the mountains but only got to play two games before the accident.”

Engel, who enjoys hiking back home, was in Denver for about a week and realized that he had a great opportunity in the coming days.

“I was staying with a family in Denver. I also had a job being an umpire beside my playing duties.

“I thought it would be a lot of fun to hike in Estes Park which is about two hours from Denver and close to Fort Collins where I would be umpiring in several days.

“I drove to Fort Collins which was my first day umpiring. I umpired games in the morning and afternoon. After I finished work, I got some dinner.  Instead of driving back to Denver which was 1 1/2 hours away, I drove to Estes Park which was only 30 minutes away on June 2 at about 6 p.m.

“I got into Estes Park and took my time surveying the area. There was a full moon out so you could see quite a bit of the area.

“I parked on the side of the road at about 9 p.m., got out and hiked up the mountain which was a little more than a mile up. It was a nice, upward climb but not too difficult.”

Engel said he didn’t hike with anybody else.

“I had camping gear on my back which included food, water and a hammock to sleep in. I didn’t wear a head lamp on my forehead since there was a full moon that evening. It was night time, but the area was lit up enough for me to see where I was going.

“I have done a lot of hiking in the past in Springfield, Mo. and also in northern Arkansas. But I had never hiked in the Rocky Mountains before.

“The area I was hiking in was mountainous and rocky but there were trees all the way up. It was more or less like a forest that I was walking through as I started my ascent.

“I was looking forward to spending that evening and the next day in this area. There are a lot of things to do.”

Engel said when he arrived near the top of the mountain, it was like a bluff which had exposed rocks.

“It took about 2 1/2 hours to get there, and now it was about 11:30 p.m.”

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 9, 2018 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

It talks about how he became stranded on the mountain and couldn’t come down and ultimately fell as he was seriously injured as he was unconscious for six hours. It also explains how he was able to get off the mountain and get help despite having a skull fracture, vertebra fracture and serious leg injury as he ultimately received help and was operated on at a local hospital. His amazing recovery is also explained.