Battered, bruised, broken ... but alive

Kurt Liska remains hospitalized in plenty of pain with a mangled left arm, broken ribs and bruised organs. But it could have been so much worse, his father says.

Liska survived nearly four days at the bottom of a ravine after rolling his Ford Bronco 80 feet off a ledge on a forest road near Mount Ashland. He was found Wednesday nearly 150 feet from the Bronco's wreckage, said Wayne Liska, his father.

Liska said his son was most likely thrown from the Bronco in the accident and rolled the 150 feet down the ravine.

"He doesn't remember how he got 150 feet down that hill," Liska said. "He doesn't even remember how he left the road in the first place."

Liska visited his son at Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, where he remains in serious condition with a left arm broken in three places above the elbow, a bruised spleen, bruised lungs and a couple of broken ribs.

He also was treated for severe dehydration, which nearly killed him.

"They got needles in him giving him fluids," Wayne Liska said. "They were worried about his kidneys shutting down."

A Bureau of Land Management agent was patrolling the area of Forest Road 20 near Mount Ashland when he heard someone yelling from the ravine, Liska said. The BLM agent looked down into the ravine and saw Kurt Liska sprawled on the ground in the hot sun.

"If that BLM guy hadn't have been driving with his window open, he wouldn't have heard him and Kurt might not be alive today," Liska said.

Rescue crews from several agencies, including the Jackson County sheriff's office, U.S. Forest Service, BLM and Mercy Flights, responded to the scene to help carry Liska out of the ravine.

"You can't say enough about those rescue workers," Wayne Liska said. "Those people are something else. When things happen in this county, they all organize and come together."

The crews loaded Liska's battered body into a Mercy Flights helicopter, where he was flown directly to RRMC's emergency room.

Liska said his son recently moved to Medford from Portland and was looking for a job. He enjoys driving and hiking the roads around the Applegate.

Liska is expected to recover.

"They are going to fix that arm when the swelling goes down," his father said. "They're also worried about his lung. A broken rib jabbed into it and caused bruising. It didn't puncture the lung, though."

Liska said his son lay on the ground for most of four days, unable to crawl up the hill to reach to road.

"He said he tried to get up there, but he was in such pain that he couldn't do it," his father said.

A friend of Liska's returned to the crash scene Thursday and found Liska's backpack and computer. There was no sign of his cell phone.

"He found Kurt's bottom false teeth under where the truck was," his father said.

Liska said his son hopes to get out of the intensive care unit soon.

"He's in agonizing pain right now, but he's alive," his father said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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