Plumber praises rescuers
Leon Jafari in hospital after his rescue. Picture: Glenn Cordingley.

A man has told of his dramatic helicopter rescue from WA's remote King Leopold Ranges, describing it as his proudest moment as an Australian citizen.

Leon Jafari was three weeks into a camping trip with his four brothers when he slipped on a rock and fell into Bell Gorge about 1pm on Monday.

One of his brothers used a satellite phone to call for help but did not have GPS equipment to pinpoint their location.

Poor reception allowed only two successful calls to emergency services.

The pilot managed an "awkward" landing and after more than five hours in agony, Mr Jafari was taken to Broome Hospital with suspected spinal injuries and then transferred to Royal Perth Hospital.

"I decided to climb down to the lower plateau and follow my brother," Mr Jafari, 55, said from his hospital bed this week.

"With my first step into the water, I could feel algae everywhere. I fell off a shiny rock and my head hit the rocks, just like that."

While Mr Jafari - who moved to Perth from Iran 38 years ago - remained conscious, he said it felt like everything was in slow motion.

"I moved my hand around and it just didn't feel right," he said.

"Then I could not feel my lower body, it just felt numb."

With tears rolling down the side of his face, Mr Jafari said he would be for ever in debt to his rescuers and good Samaritans camping nearby.

"As my luck would have it, two nurses and a midwife came to my aid as well as a bloke from the Army Reserve," he said.

"They put towels around my body and a brace around my neck."

Mr Jafari said he later watched the helicopter land in the gorge.

"It was truly magnificent," he said. "It was my proudest moment as an Aussie, with all the camaraderie among the hardship.

"People put their lives at risk to help me. I just cannot thank them enough. It has just got to happen to you before you realise.

"There are no words to describe it. I felt really well taken care of."

Mr Jafari said he intended to write to his rescuers to thank them.

The West Australian

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