Climber Airlifted to Hospital After Fall

An Arizona woman was in serious condition Sunday at Sharp Memorial Hospital after spending the night at the bottom of a steep slope she fell down while rock climbing in the Cleveland National Forest.

Sheriff's officials said that Laurel Merdik, 20, was airlifted out of a rugged area about 9 a.m. Sunday by a Marine helicopter dispatched from the El Toro Marine Base. The military helicopter was used because it had a winch to lift out the woman, who was suffering from internal injuries and hypothermia.

According to sheriff's deputies, Merdik, who is deaf, was rock climbing with companions Saturday at Cedar Creek and Eagle Peak, near Julian, when she fell down the slope about 9:40 p.m.

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