Family thanks McCaffrey, brothers for rescuing 72-year-old

The family of a man rescued by Carolina Panthers player, Christian McCaffrey, is talking for the first time about the daring rescue.

McCaffrey and his brothers ran to the rescue after seeing a 72-year-old man fall nearly 20 feet while hiking.

“He has done that hike like three times before,” said the man’s grandson, Eli Smoker. “It was just a freak thing that happened.”

Eli Smoker was hiking with his grandpa, Dan Smoker Sr. when Dan fell onto a rock.

RELATED: Christian McCaffrey helps save 72-year-old hiker after fall

“I heard what sounded like a shoe slipping on some rock and then I heard him say, ‘oh,’” Eli recalled. “Like it sounded like his voice and then I turned around about halfway through his fall and I saw him hit the ground.”

His injuries were critical. He had a broken femur, broken pelvis, broken neck and nine fractured ribs, among other injuries; he was clinging onto life.

Thanks to Christian McCaffrey and his brothers, however, he’s alive today.

The McCaffreys, also hiking Castle Rock, saw the whole thing. Christian called 911 while another performed chest compressions when Smoker stopped breathing.

“It really highlighted the human experience,” Dan Smoker Jr. said, “and just how humans can be and just the goodness of it all.”

It was only when the brothers showed up at the hospital a day later that Dan Jr. realized one of his dad’s rescuers was an NFL star.

McCaffrey himself tweeted, “Dan is lucky to have such a strong and courageous grandson,” and went on to say he’s praying for the family. As for Eli, it’s safe to say he’s relieved.

“I can't thank them enough,” he said. “It could have been, ‘I went on a hike and my grandpa died,’ but instead it's, ‘I went on a hike and some professional football players helped my grandpa.’”

Dan Smoker Jr. continues to post updates on his dad’s condition: https://twitter.com/dsmokexu