News Release

Injured Hiker Rescued in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

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Date: May 27, 2021
Contact: Carrie Wittmer, 907-822-7255

Copper Center, AK—At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 26, park rangers at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve were notified that a hiker was injured in a fall near Kennecott, AK. 

A visitor was hiking with a friend when he “lost footing and rolled hundreds of feet down a snow-covered slope near Donoho Peak,” said Park Ranger Stephens Harper, Incident Commander. “The fall triggered a snow slide which then carried the victim over a cliff into a ravine.” The man’s hiking partner was able to locate him, contact the National Park Service (NPS) via cell phone, and provide GPS coordinates to support the multi-agency response effort.

The NPS contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) at 6:20 p.m. to notify them of the incident and request a hoist-capable aircraft be placed on standby if needed. 

Wrangell Mountain Air, a local air taxi operator, spotted the injured hiker, confirmed the incident location, and relayed that information to the NPS. First responders from Kennicott Wilderness Guides, who are also Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Search and Rescue Team members, hiked from Kennecott to the man’s location in the ravine. They provided emergency medical care while on the phone with Dr. Jennifer Dow, NPS Alaska Region Medical Director and Emergency Room physician for Alaska Regional Hospital.

Snow conditions and steep terrain made it impossible for the NPS A-Star helicopter to reach the patient so at 8:05 p.m., NPS requested deployment of a hoist-capable aircraft to the scene. The RCC contacted the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National guard who dispatched an HH-60G Pave Hawk with a Guardian Angel (GA) team on board and an HC-130J Combat King II to provide aerial refueling and communications relay to rescuers on the ground.  

GA Pararescuemen were lowered down to the patient where they provided additional medical support and stabilized the patient for transport. The patient was transported in a 210th Rescue Squadron Pave Hawk helicopter to the McCarthy Airport where he was transferred to a Guardian Flight AirMedCare air ambulance and taken to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.

This rescue involved coordination between the Alaska Air National Guard, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Search and Rescue Team, National Park Service Fire Management, NPS A-Star Helicopter, Wrangell Mountain Air, Guardian Flight, and Kennicott Wilderness Guides. 



Last updated: May 27, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center , AK 99573

Phone:

907 822-5234

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