FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A newlywed groom told reporters Friday that he doesn't remember falling down a dormant volcano while on his honeymoon in Saint Kitts because of a concussion he suffered, but he's forever grateful to his wife, who overcame her fear of heights and bodily fluids to save his life.
Clay Chastain, 23, was airlifted 1,200 miles from Saint Kitts to Broward Health Medical Center to continue his recovery following the July 18 incident.
Tears welled up in Acaimie Chastain's eyes Friday as she remembered the terrifying ordeal she and her husband experienced.
"We were literally completely alone. And we're just so, so thankful to everyone back home. All the support we've received has been so overwhelming," the 23-year-old woman said.
The couple said they hiked to the top of a volcano, Mount Liamuiga, on July 18.
Acaimie Chastain said her husband wanted to climb down into the volcano for a better look at the lush foliage inside. Fearing the tough climb back, she stayed behind.
Using a rope, Clay Chastain rappelled down the inside of the volcano but fell an estimated 50 feet down to the crater, likely because the rope snapped.
"The next thing I notice, I'm sitting on the ground with my head between my knees and vomiting up blood, and there's blood all down my shirt," he said.
Acaimie Chastain said she heard a noise, and after a few minutes, she began to worry about her husband.
After shouting into the depths of the crater, Acaimie Chastain said she finally heard Clay Chastain's yells for help.
Taking a deep breath and gathering her inner strength, Acaimie Chastain climbed down into the volcano to find her husband.
"I finally made it to him and I said, 'It's going to be OK. Just stay calm,'" she said.
Acaimie Chastain, who is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds, spent hours pushing and carrying her 5-foot, 10-inch-tall husband, who weighs between 160 and 165 pounds, with his arm over her shoulders as they climbed out of the crater and down the volcano.
"It's astounding, honestly, the amount that she was able to get through," Clay Chastain said.
"It's really, really crazy just to think about all this, and (it's) probably the worst honeymoon ever," Acaimie Chastain said.
Clay Chastain said he learned three lessons from the ordeal.
"One: If you're unfamiliar with it, you need a tour guide," he said. "Two is to never go alone, and three is yeah, if you're going to be doing anything like this, always make sure you have your footing and be careful."
Despite having spinal fluid leaking from his brain and suffering a concussion, a fractured spine and jaw and temporary hearing loss, doctors gave Clay Chastain a good prognosis.
He's expected to be discharged in a few days, and then the couple can go back home in Indianapolis.
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