What could have ended in tragedy last week instead sparked a friendship between a Washington man and a Mount Shasta couple who feel they were called to his aid on the slopes of Mt. Shasta.
Dorian Dyer, a 64 year old artist from Seattle, broke his leg Sunday, Jan. 19, when he fell on a patch of ice above Bunny Flat. Mount Shasta's Bela Watson, the only person to hear his cries for help, alerted authorities to his predicament.
While he recovers, Bela and her boyfriend, Eric Wooddell, have invited Dorian to stay with them at their Mount Shasta home. They feel the experience wasn't a chance encounter, but rather a serendipitous meeting orchestrated from above.
Dorian said he wasn't planning to stop in Mount Shasta on his trip to Palm Springs, but on the spur of the moment on Sunday afternoon he decided to take a day hike.
He parked his van at Bunny Flat and set out at about 1 p.m.
Wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of excited tourists, Dorian said he took a leisurely route up the ridge, stopping to do Qigong exercises.
He'd walked for about a mile when he stepped down on what he thought was a patch of snow. Instead, it was ice, and he fell hard on his left hip.
“It knocked the wind out of me, but I didn't lose consciousness,” he said. “I've been hiking for 45 years solo and I've never had an incident like this. I tried to stand up, but I couldn't. My mind just couldn't wrap around what had just happened.”
Dorian said he began crawling down the trail, with the goal of making it to his van to get help. He experimented with sticks to use as a crutch, but most were rotted and unsuitable.
He said he finally found a stout stick, used it to stand with his weight balanced on his right side, and hobbled for awhile.
“I was making some good progress,” he said. “I was cruising along... and then the stick got stuck in some manzanita and I lost my balance and fell down again.”
With the sun getting low, Dorian said he continued to crawl down the trail, finally saw Everitt Memorial Highway through the trees, and began yelling for help.
But, he said he was still hidden from sight and because of echoes and commotion at the Bunny Flat parking lot, no one could hear what he was saying.
Some children thought his cries were a joke and began making noises back at him.
That's where Bela and Eric come in.
“Eric had been up all night creating art,” said Bela, who had spent Sunday morning sitting by the wood stove in “deepest prayer and meditation,” asking God to use her to help others. “I asked him, 'Let me be a vessel of your love,'” she said.
Page 2 of 3 - When Eric woke up that afternoon, the couple decided to “go to the forest.”
They packed up supplies, including extra water, warm hoodies, and flashlights, and drove up Everitt Memorial Highway.
Bela said when she set foot on the pavement at Bunny Flat, she had a strange feeling inside and heard Dorian's call.
“I was very focused on him, like a bat,” she said. “My heart was beating, my palms sweating, with these images flashing. My voice, which is normally tiny, was very loud.”
She called out, and Dorian answered that he couldn't move and needed help.
Bela continued to call and eventually located Dorian lying in some manzanita. Eric remained down lower, where he could see Bela in the fading light and where his cell phone still had service.
Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Jayme Lynch said a 911 call came in at about 4:30 p.m. and medical personnel from the Mount Shasta City Fire Department, Mount Shasta Fire District and CAL FIRE responded.
While they waited for assistance, Bela said she laid down by Dorian and asked him questions to get to know who he was. “I thought, 'Thank you God, for choosing me and using me,'” she said. “I asked (Dorian) what he loves, what he's passionate about. He said, 'lots of things. I'm an artist. And I love nature. And eagles. And flowers and butterflies.'”
“And I just said, 'I love you!'” said Bela.
Dorian was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta for treatment of his injury – a broken left femur below his hip socket.
Eric drove Dorian's van down the mountain, and when he got inside was startled to see a picture of Amma on the dashboard. A Hindu spiritual leader and guru, Amma had once stayed at the home where Bela and Eric are now living.
Dorian is one of Amma's devotees, he said.
Eric said he noticed a smooth rock on the trail, and without thinking about it, put it in his pocket. When he looked at it later, he realized it had an eagle with outstretched wings painted on it in white paint.
Dorian often paints eagles in his work, and when Bela and Eric went to his website that night, they discovered his artwork is similar to what they create.
On Wednesday, Dorian was released from the hospital with orders to stay off his leg for at least five weeks. While he recovers, Eric and Bela insisted he stay with them.
“She invited me into her home. I'm still amazed,” Dorian said with tears in his eyes. “So much love, so much compassion and acceptance. She doesn't even know me, but she invited me into her home.”
Page 3 of 3 - Eric said they are excited to see what art will come from their collaboration. Meanwhile, the three feel like they've known each other for years.
Dorian praised the emergency personnel who responded at Bunny Flat, as well as the hospital staff at Mercy Medical Center.
“They saved my life,” he said.
To contact Eric, Bela and Dorian, you can call (919) 564-6355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see Dorian's artwork and contact him through his website, visionheartart.com