While celebrating their honeymoon in the Caribbean, an Indiana couple got a little more adventure than they’d bargained for during a hiking trip gone wrong.
On July 18, newlyweds Clay and Acaimie Chastain were making their way up the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano on the island of St. Kitts. After about two miles of hiking the difficult trail, they’d finally reached the top.
“We knew it was a treacherous hike from reviews online and considered getting a tour guide,” Clay said in an interview with The Western Journal. “However we only saw 3rd party websites to book guides so I figured I’d find a visitors center there and find one, however we never did so we decided to go it alone.”
“We made it up to the top fine within a few hours since the trek up was so rugged and rough,” Clay said. “When we reached the top we could see all the way into the volcano and all the way out to the ocean.”
Clay decided to go down into the volcano in order to get a better view of the area’s vibrant greenery, leaving his wife, who is “not a fan” of heights, at the top. Holding ropes tied to trees along the steep trail, Clay grabbed on and went deep into the volcano until Acaimie could no longer see him.
But as he made his way inside, Clay believes the rope he was holding snapped, causing him to fall all the way down into the volcano.
“One second I’m climbing, the next second the world is spinning, and I can hear her calling down to me,” the new husband said to People.
After blacking out, the next thing Clay remembered was hearing his wife’s screams. Clay told The Western Journal he most likely fell 50-70 feet before hitting his head extremely hard.
“Acaimie heard a small snap but it just sounded like a small branch so she kept calling out to me to make sure I was fine,” he explained. “She eventually heard me say ‘help’ back faintly and then realized what had happened.”
She told the Indianapolis Star that she was “freaking out about what I was going to find at the bottom.”
Despite her fear of heights and for Clay’s life, Acaimie hurried down after him, descending deeper into the volcano.
With a fractured skull and a concussion, Clay was seriously injured and vomiting up blood. But to Acaimie’s relief, her groom was alive.
“We’re going to have to be strong,” she said to him, knowing she couldn’t leave him alone in the volcano in his injured state. “We’re going to have to climb out of here.”
Miraculously, Acaimie managed to guide Clay back out of the volcano, pushing him as he lost his balance and sense of direction.
Clay told The Western Journal that his wife then “practically carried me” the entire two hour trek down the mountain until she had cell service to call for help. By the time paramedics got to them to transport them to the hospital, they had nearly reached the bottom.
While his memories of the fall are dim, most likely as a result of his injuries, Chastain remarked that he thought a rope he was using for stability during his climb had snapped, causing him to lose balance.
“It was a miracle that he was able to support himself for as long as he did with the injuries he had,” Acaimie said to People.
Doctors said that the fracture in Clay’s skull caused air to enter his brain. Clay explained to The Western Journal that the air has also caused him to go deaf in his right ear, though doctors said it should be temporary.
As of July 24, the couple made it back to the United States and Clay will continue to recover in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But all things considered, Clay’s bride is just thankful he is alive.
“I get to love you. It’s the best thing that I’ll ever do,” Acaimie wrote on Facebook after the accident, adding, “Please don’t make me pull you out of another volcano, Clayton. I am one and done with that!”
“God is so, so good. We are so overwhelmed by all the love and support of our family, friends, and even strangers. It has brought us both to tears many, many times. Please continue with your prayers.”
The couple has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Clay’s continued medical expenses.
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