Massive effort brought Utah couple home from Thailand after elephant accident
Oct 2, 2023, 10:40 PM | Updated: Oct 4, 2023, 11:31 am
MURRAY — A traumatic experience for a Utah couple vacationing in Thailand meets a first-of-its-kind mission for LifeFlight here in Utah.
Nicole Siri and Mark Martin are currently at Intermountain Medical Center more than two weeks after jumping off an elephant when it became agitated and out of control in Thailand.
They arrived here Friday after staying in a Thailand hospital for about two weeks.
The two were vacationing in Thailand and, as part of the trip, they wanted to have an experience with elephants. Riding one seemed like a fun way to spend a day. But that day went terribly wrong when the elephant they were on became agitated, threw off the trainer, and started running.
Mark Martin posted the video from his phone on a YouTube channel.
From her hospital bed in Murray, Nicole said they both knew they were in trouble when the elephant not only threw the trainer but then rammed a man on a moped.
That’s when they determined their best option would be to jump off of the large animal.
“It’s a good, probably 10 feet,” Nicole Siri told KSL TV via Zoom as she lay in her hospital bed. When she jumped, she broke her back but the elephant left her alone. Mark wasn’t as lucky.
“When he jumped the elephant, like turned and went in on him,” Nicole described. “And so then I see the elephant, like gorging Mark I don’t know if he’s stepping on him.” She continued, “I can’t see that. All I see is the back end of an elephant bent over him.”
As the elephant rammed his head into Mark’s hips, he shattered Mark’s pelvis and caused internal injuries. Mark has also broken two vertebrae in his back.
Both were taken to a hospital in Thailand. That’s when a friend of Mark’s arranged for Life Flight to travel halfway around the world to get them home.
“It was a massive trip,” LifeFlight operations director Kent Johnson said. He was part of the meticulously planned mission to bring Nicole and Mark safely back to Utah.
“It was the furthest we’ve ever flown,” he said. The hospitalized Americans couldn’t have been happier to see them.
“They treated us awesome on the plane,” Nicole said. “They’re super comfortable, it was a great experience actually.” Nicole is a hairdresser and said a client was one of the five medical staff on that 18-hour flight. She immediately felt at ease.
The mission included five pilots, five medical staff, several stops and perfect planning for the Challenger 604 super jet.
Now, as both lie in hospital beds, their recoveries will be extensive. Nicole has learned a lot. She said she’s now researched elephants more and said elephants tamed to take humans on rides suffer intense brutality and the constant strain on them is grueling.
It’s something she wants people to know. She said if you want an “elephant experience” find another way to appreciate them.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe* to help the couple with expenses incurred while they’re out of work.
*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.