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Friend catches girl, 18, after climbing accident

MURRAY, Utah — Senior Avery Tanner was out with a group of friends Saturday morning ahead of attending prom at Wasatch High. She was planning on wearing a teal-colored dress and flower crown of orchids that her grandmother had made.

She, along with a dozen teens, had been hiking in the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center where they were going to spend the day climbing and rappelling.

Tanner had told her mother the day earlier that she had been a little anxious for the climb but didn’t specify why.

Fellow senior Braden Patterson was just ahead of Tanner heading down the rock to belay, a rappelling technique meant to secure or fix a rope, and had just gotten to the ground when Tanner fell.

Patterson said he can’t remember much after Tanner landed in his arms, “I remember hearing her hit the rocks and suddenly she was in my arms,” Patterson told KSLTV.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to move myself to where I needed to catch her and have the ability to catch her — so there was definitely — I was guided by someone, by some angels, to move to where I needed to be.

“They were there helping me stay standing up,” he said.

Tanner’s mother, Caysie Riley, said that catch probably saved her daughter from more injuries.

“She doesn’t have any other injuries on her body, no breaks, no anything. Just fractured the back of her skull. So she was really lucky. I think it was just instinct. He happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

As of Tuesday, the 18-year old Tanner is currently in a medically induced coma where doctors at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray where she has been deemed stable but isn’t able to breathe on her own yet. Doctors will have more information on her condition in the upcoming days depending on if she wakes up.

The teens hadn’t been wearing helmets when the accident happened and Patterson said they might have gotten a little cocky, especially after most of their climbing had been in an indoor rock gym.

Tanner’s classmates observed a moment of silence for her and Wasatch Administrators have been visiting the hospital.

Other families have also put up her parents at a hotel near the hospital.