Central Valley

October 12, 2012

Rescued Yosemite hiker healing after surgery

Jessica Rose Garcia won't know for weeks whether she will walk again.

But the Yosemite employee, rescued after a three-day search, had a more immediate concern when she spoke with family members at the Fresno hospital where she was taken: "She wanted to know what kind of cake (her rescuers) like," said her aunt, Darlene Cunningham. "She wanted to bake them a cake."

Garcia, 23, went for a walk Saturday afternoon after moving to the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park, where she had landed a job at a hotel.

Searchers started looking for Garcia when she didn't report for her first day of work Sunday. She last had been seen Saturday after orientation. Rescuers found her Tuesday afternoon, roughly two miles away.

On Friday, Cunningham recounted what Garcia told family members when they could ask her what happened.

"She wanted to familiarize herself with the area, so she went on a short walk," Cunningham said.

After a couple of miles, Garcia started heading back home when she lost her footing and slipped on a wet rock or root. "She slid down for a little bit when her wallet fell out," Cunningham said. Garcia turned to retrieve her wallet and then fell down a 35-foot drop.

"The next thing she knew, she woke up a couple hours later," Cunningham said. Garcia was in a lot of pain, and would later learn she had a broken leg and pelvis, as well as spinal cord damage.

She is being treated at Fresno's Community Regional Medical Center, where she underwent a 12½-hour spinal cord operation Thursday. Doctors told family members the procedure went better than they expected, but it will be weeks before they know if Garcia will be able to walk again.

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