February 17, 1998 in Nation/World

Snowboarder’s Condition Upgraded

Los Angeles Times
 

Doctors Monday upgraded the condition of 14-year-old snowboarder Jeff Thornton, who was rescued last week after surviving a six-day ordeal when he became lost in the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles.

A spokeswoman at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where Thornton was being treated, said the 5-foot-9, 215-pound boy had been moved from the intensive care unit to an intermediate unit after his condition was upgraded from serious to fair Monday morning.

The spokeswoman, Anita Rockwell-Hayden, said she could not elaborate on Thornton’s progress because the teen’s family had requested that no other information be released. Generally, Rockwell-Hayden added, patients are upgraded from serious to fair condition when their vital signs are stable and they are no longer considered at any risk of death.

She would not comment on Thornton’s frostbite, which doctors last week said had caused “a lot of pain” to his hands and feet. A doctor who initially treated the teen said last week that a bootless foot suffered the most and that it was unclear whether the boy would lose any fingers or toes to frostbite.

Thornton, from the Imperial Valley town of Brawley, disappeared from the New Mountain High ski resort near Wrightwood while snowboarding with his uncle. Thornton became separated from his uncle when he strayed into the trees on the backside of the slopes. Rescuers tracked the teen to an isolated canyon two miles below the ski resort.

Rescuers said they found the teen sitting next to a creek, wearing no gloves, with only a mud-caked wool sock on his left foot. He was disoriented, bruised, and had a black eye. Thornton had weathered six nights of subfreezing temperatures, nearly 3 feet of snowfall and winds that gusted up to 70 mph.


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