[serious] Have you ever seen anyone die before? Traumatic accident?

I was hiking in Zion National Park two summers ago with my older brother. We decided to do Angel's Landing on a day in late August. It was a weekday morning and it had been drizzling off and on, so there weren't many people on the trail. We made it up the trail in good time, but ended up separating near the top. He wanted to continue out to the very edge, and I am terrified of heights. Combine that with the slippery trail and I just didn't want to do it.

I headed back down by myself. It was very peaceful and quiet and I passed maybe two people on my way down. I was about half way down the trail and had just turned the corner onto the part of the trail that was just open switchbacks down the rest of the mountain. It was a beautiful view and I could see that the trail was still pretty empty.

However, right as I turned the corner I witnessed an older man, heavyset but not obese, drop like a rock. One second before he had been hiking with his wife and daughter and the next he had just collapsed straight onto the pavement. My first thought was "Oh my gosh, he's bleeding" because obviously he had just fallen back on his head. My second thought was "I'm so glad Girl's Camp taught me CPR, if nothing else." However, luckily for me, I never had to test my CPR skills. A hiker right behind them happened to be an EMT and he ran up and immediately began CPR.

My phone network had no service, so another hiker called the Park Service. It honestly seemed like forever until we could see ambulances and park service far, far beneath us pull into the lot, but it was probably no more than 5 to 10 minutes. A ranger came running to the bottom of the trail and because of the way the mountain is shaped we could hear him yell up quite clearly "Defibrillator coming up!" By then a few other tourists had come down the mountain and stopped out of respect. It was very solemn to see these families stand there, watching two men rotate giving this man CPR. I stood in between the two groups, feeling caught and uncertain.

After a moment or two I realized that this park ranger was quite a bit older, and while he was thin and in good shape, he wasn't a fast runner, and he was carrying the defibrillator (the trail doesn't fit a vehicle, apparently). I had been running all summer and I felt confident in my ability to get the defibrillator up faster, so I dropped my backpack and took off running down the mountain. That part was easy. I got to the ranger in a few minutes and he passed off the defibrillator without a word.

This was my moment of agonizing glory. I sprinted that God-forsaken mountain, all the way to the top. It wasn't that long of a distance, but it was switchbacks and it was uphill. I was definitely faster than the ranger would have been, but it was one of the most painful things I have ever done. My lungs have never hurt so bad, but I couldn't stop, because I knew this man at the top needed me and every second could cost him his life. I got to the top, and by then a slightly larger crowd had gathered, and they had all watched me sprint this thing to the top. I passed off the defibrillator and went and threw up in a bush while my ears rang and I fought the urge to just pass out. I realized dimly that they were applauding me and it was one of the worst sounds I can honestly remember, because I associate it with the awful physical pain I was feeling, as well as the realization that I was witnessing someone die right in front of me. The applause was somehow muted and solemn, but it still sounded really weird.

They worked on this guy for forty minutes while I sat there in the rain and overlooked Zion, feeling very melancholy. He never made it off the mountain alive and it really impacted me. After they had called it and covered him with a sheet to carry down later (they had all of the bystanders walk past him and get off the mountain first) I remember his wife just coming over and hugging me and thanking me, and I just remember feeling really numb about the whole thing, but also just strangely horrified. I'd seen dead bodies before, but I'd never actually witnessed death.

/r/AskReddit Thread