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Community support helped injured Bishop Peak hiker through ‘tough times’

Evan Lalanne suffered critical neck and spinal injuries in a fall near the top of Bishop Peak on December 29, 2016.
Evan Lalanne suffered critical neck and spinal injuries in a fall near the top of Bishop Peak on December 29, 2016.

Arroyo Grande High School grad Evan Lalanne, who suffered critical neck and spinal injuries in a fall near the top of Bishop Peak in December, says community support has helped him get through tough times as he continues his rehabilitation.

“The love and support from everyone in the community has been incredible,” he said. “It’s been so valuable — it really keeps my spirits up.”

Lalanne remains paralyzed from the waist down and is staying at a local hotel while his family’s home in Arroyo Grande is being retrofitted with a wheelchair ramp and other accommodations. Since the Dec. 29 fall, local companies and residents — including some of the helicopter pilots who helped rescue him from the mountain — have donated time and materials to help with the home.

Lalanne said he and his girlfriend were hiking Bishop Peak around sunset and flying a drone roughly 20 minutes before he fell. After boxing the drone back up, he and his girlfriend began heading down from the top, jumping from rock to rock, he said.

“I jumped with a little too much momentum and there really wasn’t anything to grab onto,” Lalanne said. “It’s kind of a blur.”

I’m not going to lie; there are times when I get down. But there’s been so much support that I also have this feeling like I don’t want to let anybody down. It’s been a way to push me through the tough times.

Evan Lalanne

He fell 25 to 30 feet and lost consciousness. Bryan Stupar, pastor at Calvary SLO Church in San Luis Obispo, happened to be hiking near the top of Bishop Peak and heard Lalanne’s friend’s scream for help, Lalanne said. Stupar reached him as he regained consciousness and waited with him until search and rescue crews arrived to airlift him to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

“I’m so grateful he was there,” Lalanne said. “If he wasn’t there, it would have been a totally different story.” He also praised emergency responders, who he said were “so comforting.”

After being transferred to Stanford Medical Center, where he remained in the intensive care unit for seven days, Lalanne went to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where he began rehabilitation.

“The staff there was so awesome,” Lalanne said. “There were a lot of limitations (from the injuries) obviously, but we were able to fight through it.”

He returned to San Luis Obispo County late last month, where his rehabilitation continues through Arroyo Grande Community Hospital and other area facilities’ outpatient services. He said that though the process is expected to be long and painful, he’s keeping a positive outlook.

“I’m not going to lie; there are times when I get down,” Lalanne said. “But there’s been so much support that I also have this feeling like I don’t want to let anybody down. It’s been a way to push me through the tough times.”

As of Friday, donors on a GoFundMe page raising money for the Lalanne family’s expenses had pledged $73,486 toward a $100,000 goal.

If all goes according to plan, LaLanne said, he plans to re-enroll for the fall quarter at Cal Poly, where he is a manufacturing engineering major.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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