On Saturday, February 4, 2023, a man riding a motorcycle in Washington County, Utah, apparently fell around 40 to 50 feet off of a cliff while out riding. Officials credit his smartwatch (brand undesignated) with saving his life, because it reportedly notified the Washington County Sheriff’s Office about the crash.
After receiving the alert, Search and Rescue teams, officers, and a Life Flight helicopter all responded to the scene. They were able to locate the man a short time later, where he was determined to have serious enough injuries that he was considered to be in critical condition. Once medical first responders were able to stabilize him, he was airlifted to a nearby hospital for treatment. Officials say that he is expected to recover.
As is typically the case with stories like this, full details aren’t available just yet. The man’s identity hasn’t been released, and we don’t know any details about his bike, the route he was riding, or what caused the fall. It’s also not clear which smartwatch did its job here—while some reports have automatically assumed it was an Apple Watch, there are other wearables manufacturers offering devices with emergency contact capability, such as Garmin and Samsung. No matter which watch it was, though, the man’s family and friends are likely grateful that he was wearing it today.
Washington County is located in the southwestern corner of Utah, and borders both Nevada and Arizona. The smartwatch reportedly guided officers to the Warner Valley area, where there’s a big off-road trail system that’s popular with all kinds of off-road vehicles, including dirt bikes and ATVs. It’s not clear if he was a visitor, or local to the area—but it’s the kind of place that draws a number of outdoor enthusiasts from all over.
From the photos of the search site released by officials, the place looks awe-inspiring to visit, but also like you definitely wouldn’t want to fall 40 to 50 feet off of any of its cliffs. It’s not clear at this point if the rider was wearing any kind of protective gear, but even if he was, that kind of terrain is certainly going to do significant damage. We wish the rider as speedy and uncomplicated a recovery as possible.