November 17, 2019

‘I was freaking out’: Indianapolis man who fell down a Caribbean volcano is coming home

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By Andrew Clark From Indianapolis Star

Clay Chastain suffered a severe concussion and cracked vertebrae on July 18 after falling down a volcano on the island of St. Kitts. (Photo: Provided by Acaimie Chastain)

Clay and Acaimie Chastain flew to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts the day after marrying in Crawfordsville, Indiana. They were hoping for a relaxing, weeklong honeymoon before returning to Indianapolis.

Instead, there was a frightening fall. But after nearly a week in a St. Kitts hospital, the couple is set to return to the U.S.

On July 18, four days after arriving, Clay and Acaimie hiked two miles up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on the island. Clay Chastain said he wanted to climb down into the volcano for a better view of the lush greenery inside. His wife said she stayed behind, fearing the difficult climb down.

“One second I’m climbing, the next second the world is spinning, and I can hear her calling down to me,” Clay Chastain told IndyStar.

He said he thinks a rope he was holding onto while climbing snapped, but he isn’t sure. The next thing he remembers is hearing Acaimie Chastain calling out to him, asking if he was OK. There was a pile of bloody vomit next to him, he said.

‘I was freaking out’

Acaimie Chastain kept screaming, asking if he was all right. She didn’t hear a response. So she started climbing down the same path where her husband fell an estimated 50 feet.

Clay Chastain suffered a severe concussion and cracked vertebrae on July 18 after falling down a volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.

Clay Chastain suffered a severe concussion and cracked vertebrae on July 18 after falling down a volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. (Photo: Provided by Acaimie Chastain)

She found his cellphone case, then his cellphone and then the orange bandanna he was wearing.

“I was freaking out about what I was going to find at the bottom,” she said.

“We’re going to have to be strong,” she told him when she found him. “We’re going to have to climb out of here.”

There was no one else around, and no cell service.

Clay Chastain had enough strength to climb out of the volcano and walk for two miles back down to its base, but he stumbled and vomited during the journey, his wife said. He leaned on her for support.

“It was a miracle that he was able to support himself for as long as he did with the injuries he had,” Acaimie Chastain said.

About halfway down, cell service returned. Acaimie Chastain called 911, and paramedics arrived when the two had nearly finished their descent.

Cracked vertebrae, but no broken bones

Clay suffered a severe concussion, cracked vertebrae, a fracture in his skull and loss of hearing in his right ear. Air also entered his brain tissue, which prevented the Chastains from taking a commercial flight home. They’re scheduled to take a medical flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Wednesday.

“It was just a miracle that he wasn’t injured worse than he was,” Acaimie Chastain said. “It was incredible to me that he didn’t have any broken bones.”

For more on this story go to: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2019/07/23/indiana-man-clay-chastain-volcano-st-kitts-returning-home/1807438001/

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