MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If laughter is the best medicine then the friends and family of Nicholas Edwards gladly fill the prescription as they sit next to his hospital bed at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
“That’s what this place kind of needs,” friend Marc Gonzales said of the humor.
If only laughter was all Edwards needed.
“I’ve got a lot of back pain all the way up and down back,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he has a cracked vertebrae in his neck forcing him to wear a brace. His brother helps him sip his favorite drink from a straw and hands him tissues to help with his recurring cough.
Cuts that required stitches line his face as well as his arms, serving as painful reminders of the death defying fall he barely remembers.
Edwards said, “When I woke up (in the hospital) I had no idea what happened.” He said turned to his family and doctors for answers.
“They’re like, ‘You fell.’ I’m like, ‘I fell from what?'” he asked. When they told him a cliff he couldn’t believe it.
It happened after a hike up Taylors Falls Saturday afternoon.
“We found a really nice spot on the cliff and we put our hammocks up and we enjoyed the view,” Gonzales said. “I saw (Edwards) sit down on this cliff edge and I was like, ‘Hey you need to back up,’ and just about mid-sentence he just shot straight down. Just like he got sucked up into a hole.”
Edwards tumbled about 75 feet onto a rock bed. Investigators said branches slowed his fall for the first 40 feet, but nothing was in the way afterwards.
“I vaguely remember the fall. I think I slipped, hit my head and didn’t remember anything else,” Edwards said.
“It was like a dream, like your worst dream finally came true and you’re waking up from it and you know it’s real,” added Gonzales.
After calling 911, Gonzales said first responders were there within a few minutes.
Luckily, investigators said a trio of physicians hiking nearby made it to Edwards before first responders arrived, keeping the 21-year-old’s neck stabilized on a fishing board.
He was then put in an ambulance and eventually a helicopter bound for HCMC.
“God’s work, it’s a blessing,” Gonzales said. “There’s so many things, so many ifs, shoulds, ands, or buts that didn’t happen that could have. And that’s why (Edwards’) here today, walking and cracking jokes.”
Two things that Edwards miraculously will live to do.
“Thanks everyone who responded who’s been there with me through everything, I really appreciate it. You have no idea. It means the world to me,” Edwards said of everyone who helped save his life. “I love everyone and please be careful on that cliff’s edge.”
Both Edwards and Gonzales want to remind hikers to be hyper aware of their surroundings, keep cell phones charged, and always hike with someone.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Edwards’ medical expense and future rehabilitation. If you’d like to make a donation, click here.