Teen Survives 150+ Foot Fall In Spanish Fork

Jul 24, 2019, 10:32 PM

PROVO, Utah — A man who fell close to 150 feet in Spanish Fork Canyon said Wednesday he believes his deceased father played a part in his survival.

18-year-old Preston Harward said he had gone with friends to an old, above-ground tunnel near Thistle last Thursday night and was running through it when he accidentally ran out of it.

“I hit the 20-foot drop-off first and realized what was happening and tried to stop myself trying to grab something, but I was sprinting through the cave and had so much momentum and I was going so fast and it was so steep that there was nothing I could have done to stop myself.”

Harward ended up far below the tunnel opening, badly broken and unconscious for roughly 5 minutes.

It was during that time he said he had an out-of-body experience involving his father, Jeff Harward, who passed away in 2013.

“I wasn’t in the mountains, I wasn’t in my body,” Harward said. “I just remember seeing him and going up to him and just like hugging him and the only words that I remember that were spoken were just him telling me that it wasn’t my time to go.”

Harward said at that point, it felt as if he was “sucked” back into his body and he woke up to discover he could barely breathe.

“I started yelling out for (his friends) and it took them, I think, about 15 minutes to get to me and they finally did and when they did, like I told them, ‘I’m going to die,’” Harward recalled.

Harward said he had a collapsed lung, broken ribs and his stomach was pushed upward in his chest cavity.

At Utah Valley Hospital, he was reminded of his father’s presence once again when a nurse asked, ‘what’s this?’”

Though Harward’s clothes had been cut away by paramedics, a pendant that his father once wore had stayed with him through the entire ordeal.

“It was one of the last things that I found when he passed away,” Harward said. “I just feel like my dad had a part in me surviving this.”

Two days later, he was walking again—something he did Wednesday afternoon to give his mother a hug before he was discharged from the hospital.

Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the tunnel came to be in the 1980s to carry overflow floodwaters away from Thistle.

He noted that somebody had died in 2012 after falling from the tunnel and he said there is fencing in the area as well as no-trespassing signs to mark the county-owned property.

He urged people to stay away for their own safety.

Harward said he had no plans to return and was grateful he survived.

“I am so thankful to be alive,” Harward said. “I think that everything that’s happening made me realize how fragile life is and I kind of just feel like I got a second chance.”

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Teen Survives 150+ Foot Fall In Spanish Fork