2 BHSU students save life of fellow student during hiking accident

Phil Pesheck, director of BHSU Public Safety, shakes the hand of BHSU student Preston Knobloch as he presents Knobloch and Alexis Venables (left) with the BHSU Lifesaving Award. Knobloch and Venables saved the life of Alex Wooden (right) during a hike in Spearfish Canyon this fall. Photo Credit// BHSU

SPEARFISH, S.D. — Two students attending Black Hills State University saved the life of their friend while hiking in Spearfish Canyon, this fall.

Just weeks after meeting and moving into their residence hall, Preston Knobloch, Alex Wooden and Alexis Venables set off to hike the popular trail, Devil’s Bathtub in Spearfish Canyon. The trail is known for its multiple creek crossings and natural waterslides.

While climbing the rock walls, Wooden slipped and fell 45 feet to the rocks below, sustaining numerous injuries.

Knobloch and Venables responded immediately and provided emergency, lifesaving assistance. Then, while Knobloch remained at the scene, Venables ran back to the highway and flagged down a motorist, instructing them to call 911.

Two hours later, first responders arrived to the scene, took Wooden from the trail to an awaiting ambulance, and brought him to Spearfish Regional Hospital for stabilization. Wooden was then transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital where he underwent seven hours of surgery.

Wooden sustained significant facial injuries in the accident — compound fractures of both wrists, significant knee and hip injuries and a severed thoracic artery. He goes to physical therapy three times a week, and will have one more surgery on his left arm to remove a plate.

John Ginther, associate director of Residence Life at BHSU, said the BHSU community is grateful to Knobloch and Venables for their quick thinking and care of their fellow student.

“The Black Hills are known for their beauty and the people who inhabit them. We take care of one another, and the students at BHSU are no exception,” said Ginther. “Preston and Alexis embody everything that BHSU stands for and hopes to instill in its students – critical thinking skills, the ability to take decisive action, determination, innovation and problem solving, and a need to help others.”

Phil Pesheck, director of Public Safety at BHSU, presented Knobloch and Venables with a Lifesaving Award. Emergency responders and personnel who assisted in the event were also present during the awards presentation, which took place Dec. 2, 2019.

“By their immediate actions, under difficult and extraordinary circumstances, these BHSU students demonstrated exceptional courage, presence of mind and swift action. Their team work and selfless actions are to be commended,” said Pesheck.

Wooden is currently living in Cody, Wyoming while he recovers, and plans to resume his studies at BHSU in fall of 2020.

“I want to say thank you to Preston and Alexis. They truly deserve this award and I’m glad they’re receiving this recognition,” Wooden said. “They saved my life.”


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News