NFL star helps save man's life in hiking accident

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey’s offseason went from ordinary to traumatic when he, his friends, and his brothers — including 49ers wide receiver Max McCaffrey — watched 72-year-old Dan Smoker Sr. fall 20 feet onto a rock below him during a hike at Castle Rock in Colorado on Saturday. In part because of the quick response by McCaffrey, the rest of his group, and paramedics, Smoker survived the fall, CBS Sports’ Sean Wagner-McGough writes.

On Tuesday, McCaffrey, who is coming off a rookie season that saw him total 1,086 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage, told about the traumatic experience.

“It’s such a … I don’t know what you’d call it,” McCaffrey said. “Truly a blessing that we turned the corner at that exact moment and we could be there for him.”

As they rounded the corner, McCaffrey watched Smoker, who was hiking with his 13-year-old grandson Eli, fall.

“It felt like he was in the air for 10 seconds,” McCaffrey said. “I had never seen anything quite like that in my life as far as the trauma and the sound. We were in shock.”

Eli said he thought he heard “the sound of a shoe slipping and somebody saying ‘oh.'”

“It sounded like my grandpa so I turned around and I saw him hit the ground,” Eli said, CBS Denver reports.

McCaffrey called for help. The others tended to Smoker until paramedics arrived 11 minutes later. 

“One of the McCaffrey brothers was on the phone with 911… and then Michael was holding and helping my grandpa,” Eli said. “Had they done what other people were doing and just kept walking, I would’ve just been alone.”

According to’s Max Henson, Smoker suffered “a broken femur, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine fractured ribs and a broken neck.” At one point, before the paramedics got there, his breathing stopped, which forced the group to perform chest compressions. Smoker was in critical condition late Tuesday, but stable.

“Everybody stepped up,” McCaffrey said. “I called 9-1-1, and it felt like an eternity. It felt like we were up there waiting for four hours. But I looked back at my call log and it took 11 minutes before the paramedics came. Amazing what those guys did.”

Dan Smoker, Smoker Sr.’s son, credits them with saving his dad’s life. He tweeted about the incident, which the McCaffrey brothers responded to. 

“I don’t know what would have happened,” McCaffrey said. “We were lucky to be at the right place at the right time.”  

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