Several slip-ups on Sitka trails kept the Coast Guard and Search and Rescue teams busy this weekend. The Sitka Fire Department got calls on Saturday and Sunday about hikers in need of assistance.
On Saturday, June 15, the Coast Guard hoisted a 27-year-old man off Sisters Mountain after he had fallen as much as 100 feet at an elevation of about 2600-feet. Over the weekend, other media outlets misreported that the victim was 50-years-old. The Sitka Fire Department got a call about 1:30pm, Volunteer Search and Rescue Captain Matt Hunter told KCAW.
Hunter was training with his team on Saturday, working on rope rescue techniques. The Fire Department notified him of the accident, and he broke down the training equipment and headed to the fire hall. There, he started deploying teams and eventually requested helicopter assistance from the Coast Guard.
In a news release, pilot Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Jacobs reported that the foggy weather, high elevation, and steep terrain made for a difficult operation. Nevertheless, Hunter says that Air Station Sitka succeeded in locating the victim.
“The Coast Guard was able to host the man off the middle Sister Mountain and get him back to town without any assistance from the Sitka Fire Department’s search and rescue team,” Hunter said. The Coast Guard launched one of their jayhawk helicopters for the rescue mission. “We’re so lucky to have the Coast Guard here to just get out and pluck people off the mountains.”
The victim was taken to Mt Edgecumbe hospital with head and back injuries, but in stable condition. He’s back home now. Hunter says that a search and rescue team accompanied his two companion hikers back down the middle Sister after he was airlifted out.
But the weekend was just getting started for Sitka’s volunteer rescue team. Search and Rescue went to work again on Sunday, when the Sitka Fire Department got another call around 12:30pm with a report of a hiker with a dislocated or broken ankle on the Beaver Lake trail.
Search and rescue had 11 people on the trail and was able to stabilize the injury. The rescue workers got the patient in a litter and safely down off the Beaver Lake Trail.
“The person had slipped on some of the wooden steps and landed hard on their foot,” Hunter said. The victim was transferred to emergency medical services personnel and taken to Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital for treatment.
The Coast Guard also assisted state troopers in the rescue of two elderly men stranded near Lemon Creek Glacier in Juneau. The aircrew medevaced the men to safety, where they were met by emergency medical services.