Hiker with flip-flops grateful to be alive after fall at Bridal Veil Falls

Sep 20, 2022, 8:36 AM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 3:37 pm

PROVO, Utah — A man who fell more than 30 feet while climbing Bridal Veil Falls with flip-flops is recovering from a broken back and said he is grateful to be alive during an exclusive interview with KSL TV.

Justin Hill hiked up Bridal Veil Falls for the first time with a friend last year. Since then he’s returned many times because of the view, the beauty and the peace he feels there.

But on Sept. 8, his days of hiking up the falls came to an abrupt stop, at least temporarily.

He had just wrapped up a job interview and was feeling good. So he made an unexpected stop in Provo Canyon, threw on his sandals and started making his way up the waterfalls.

But when he got to the point he had been to so many times before, he decided to go higher to try and get an even better view. He said he had to climb up a small rock wall to get there.

After soaking up the beauty for a time, he struggled to know how to get back down and ultimately decided the best way would be the same way he climbed up. But it was not as easy.

“I can’t describe how it was,” Hill said. “Definitely terrifying. I didn’t know what was happening.”

He was falling. And he would continue to fall an estimated 30 to 40 feet before crashing onto his back, with part of his body on the edge of another drop.

“The only thing that stopped me from falling another 100 to 150 feet — people were telling me — was this little tree.”

The pain was agonizing. He said it hurt to move and it hurt to breathe. But somehow he managed to inch himself away from the edge and then call 911.

Fifteen minutes into the call he could hear the ambulance. Someone was coming to get him. But he said he was on the phone for an hour and a half before a helicopter picked him up and carried him to safety.

Hill thanked the dispatcher who waited with him on the phone.

“Justin, are you OK? I need you to talk to me. What do you see around you? I need you to stay with me,” he remembers her saying.

The next day, doctors performed surgery to fix two vertebrae on his back. He left the hospital one week later with two rods and six screws in his back.

Monday was his first time back at the falls since the incident. He returned to the base with his wife and a cane to keep him from falling.

“Memories came back,” he said. “Both good and bad memories.”

And it hit him that he had almost died there. But, he said this would not be his last time back.

With a smile, he said he “definitely learned my lesson not to hike in flip-flops.”

“I definitely feel like someone higher above has bigger plans for me and didn’t think it was my time to go.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

man holds gun...

Shelby Lofton

Expert breaks down how far someone can legally go to protect their Utah property

A tense interaction between a snowboarder and a Brighton man has started conversation on Utah's trespassing laws, and now an expert is weighing in.

8 hours ago

New homes during construction. (Ray Boone, KSL News)...

Daniel Woodruff

Battle brewing between Utah builders, cities over home inspections

SB185, which passed the Senate this week and awaits a vote in the House of Representatives, could allow builders to pick their own inspectors.

8 hours ago

The stage of the Tabernacle Choir as they perform in Manila. (Dan Rascon, KSL News)...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir performs unforgettable concert in Manila

It was a night not to be forgotten in the Philippines as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed  its first major concert before thousands of Filipinos at the Mall of Asia’s 9,000 set arena.

9 hours ago

Police are asking for help in locating the driver in a hit-and-run that sent a Sandy mother and her...

Shara Park

Sandy police seeking help in locating vehicle involved in a hit-and-run

Police are asking for help in locating the driver in a hit-and-run that sent a Sandy mother and her teenage daughter to the hospital.

11 hours ago

Keith Sorenson opens a tool shed to display the tools of the trade. (Stuart Johnson, KSL News)...

Alex Cabrero

Taylorsville heritage center reclaims stolen historic anvils

A pair of historically-significant anvils were finally returned to Taylorsville after being stolen two years ago.

11 hours ago

Herriman police are seeking the public's assistance in locating 76-year-old Joe Vakuata. (Herriman ...

Mark Jones

UPDATE: Herriman police find missing 76-year-old man safe

Herriman police are seeking the public's assistance in locating a missing 76-year-old man.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Hiker with flip-flops grateful to be alive after fall at Bridal Veil Falls