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Woman injured in mule accident in Grand Canyon National Park

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Date: May 5, 2009
Contact: Maureen Oltrogge, 928-638-7779

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Grand Canyon National Park rangers responded to a mule accident this morning on the Bright Angel Trail that involved at 66 year-old woman from California. 

At approximately 9:00 this morning the Grand Canyon Regional Dispatch Center received a radio call from a mule wrangler reporting that a mule had lost it’s footing, fell, and then rolled over the passenger that it had been carrying.  The accident occurred approximately 2 ½ miles below the rim on the Bright Angel Trail.  The mule and its passenger were part of two concessioner mule strings that were in route to Phantom Ranch for an overnight stay.  The mule concession is operated by Xanterra South Rim, LLC.

Two National Park Service paramedics were flown to the accident scene and stabilized the patient before extricating her using a short-haul operation.  The procedure involves a rescuer on a fixed line, extended below a helicopter that is flown into the rescue site.  The rescuer then attaches the patient, via a Bauman bag, and fly’s with the patient at the end of the fixed-line to a safe location – in this case, the South Rim Helibase.  From there the woman was flown by Classic Life Guard to the Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment of her injuries.

Following the incident, one of the mule strings continued on to Phantom Ranch.  The string that included the mule involved in the accident, returned to the South Rim.

Approximately 12 people from the National Park Service were involved in the rescue operation.  They were assisted by Xanterra mule wranglers and visitors on the trail.  During helicopter operations, the Bright Angel Trail was closed for approximately 1 hour.

An investigation into the cause of the accident will be completed by the National Park Service.


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