Man’s dog saves his life after backcountry skiing accident

DENVER — A man who suffered a terrible injury while on a back country skiing adventure near Berthoud Pass credits his dog with saving his life.

Leonard Somers, of Tanernash, Colo, was skiing on Nov. 2 with his nephew Ryan Bame  when it started getting dark.

Somers became separated from Bame.  “He mentioned if I didn’t see him for the next 25 to 40 minutes to come looking for him,” Bame said.

A while passed and Bame started looking for Somers but could not find him.

Another skier, Jenny Beltman, was in the area and said she noticed a dog at the bottom of a trial.  The dog was pacing and panicked, she said.

“I first saw the dog by himself and then he headed over to where Leonard was,” Beltman said.

Somers had fallen into a ravine hitting his back on a frozen tree trunk. The trunk punctured his neck and caused spinal injuries.

Unable to move his legs, his companion, a husky named Juneau, left his side only long enough to get the attention of other skiers.

“He was very loyal. He never left his side,” Beltman said.

Flight for life rushed Somers to St. Anthony Medical Center in Lakewood where one week and one surgery later, a very excited Alaskan husky waited like any other family member to greet his owner.

“I don’t know if God was reaching out through her or something bigger was playing out,” said Somers.

With both feet in casts, and a free hand on his Bible, Somers has spent every day reflecting on his accident, and the dog who saved his life.

“She knew I needed help. She helped me dig out and laid on me to keep me warm until help came.”

Somers isn’t sure he will ever walk again, but says his attitude will move him in ways his legs never could.

“It could have been much worse.”

When he’s released from St. Anthony, Somers will transfer to the Craig Rehabilitation Hospital to continue his treatment.