An American lawyer on holiday in Bali narrowly escaped tragedy on a late-night ride in Ubud, Central Bali on a newly purchased bicycle left him semi-conscious and badly injured at the bottom of a ravine.
Michael Hoffman from San Francisco had finished his dinner at an Ubud Restaurant and decided to ride his mountain-bike back to his hotel.
Operating from memory, Hoffman turned onto Jalan Kajeng, just after passing the Starbuck Café.
Further down the quiet street he turned again into a small alley that led to a path through a local rice field.
A wrong turn and a miscalculation saw the America and his bicycle fall into a deep river ravine at Juwuk Manis.
A fall of more than 15-meters down the steep riverbank left Hoffman dazed and bleeding, and sufficiently far off the beaten track in Ubud that his calls for help at that late hour were not heard over the sounds of the rushing water.
With broken ribs and other injuries that prevented him from climbing back up the vertical embankment, Hoffman managed to find his hand phone in his backpack and, lacking any local number, called a friend in San Francisco to describe his predicament. He was only able to offer a landmark of a road near Starbucks
and his personal sense that he was in a ravine near a waterfall.
The resourceful San Francisco colleague soon found the name and 24-hour number of the Toya Medika Clinic
in Ubud on the Internet and called at 1:30 a.m. in an urgent appeal for assistance to help his injured friend/
A well-trained first-response team immediately commenced a search pattern based on the scanty information relayed by Hoffman via San Francisco. When the Clinic’s ambulance could not pass narrow alleyways, the recue team moved to motorbikes searching up and down the riverbanks of the several streams that converge in Central Ubud.
After two hours and responding to a small blinking light seen in a deep ravine, Nik, a rescuer, stopped his motorbike and called out “Mike” to which he received an immediate response of a plea for “help”. Nik thentold the American to stay quiet and conserve his energy as help was on the way.
In a scene worthy of a Hollywood adventure film, first responders gathered at the ravine's edge and rappelled down to the injured man with ropes, pulleys and medical gear. Mike later described how a strong Balinese man “built like a soldier” took command of his 6’2”, 200 pound frame like he was rag doll, fitted him into a full body harness and, with the help of the rescue team, hauled him up to the ravine’s edge.
Despite the enveloping darkness, the team also managed to mount a rescue of Mike’s new bike that was, in fact, much better off after the fall than its owner.
A short ride on a motorbike brought Hoffman to a waiting ambulance and another short ride to the Toya Medika Clinic
where X-rays confirmed two broken ribs and a broken nose.
Following his harrowing rescue, Michael Hoffman is full of praise for the first-response team of the Toya Medika Clinic
in Ubud, permitting us to share his story and a picture taken upon arrival at the Clinic.
Fortunately, Hoffman is making a full recovery and planning a return visit to Bali in a few months’ time.
For a more detailed account of Michael Hoffman’s mishap and his heroic rescue visit the Ubud Now and Then Website
A word to the wise: some numbers worth keeping at hand, whether you live in Ubud or San Francisco:
Toya Medika Clinic
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Telehone: +62-(0)361-978078 or++62-(0)361-2189000
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