Wednesday, December 4, 2013
For the second time in less than a month, rangers at Acadia National Park had to mount an effort to rescue a hiker injured in a fall.
Rescuers at Acadia National Park raise a litter carrying Kevin Hills of Kittery on Saturday. Hills suffered a head injury after falling 50 feet into the ocean. Ranger Christopher Wiebusch, right, steadies the litter with the help of Bar Harbor paramedic John Sanders, left.
Will Overton photo
Kevin Hills, 22, of Kittery fell about 50 feet into the ocean while climbing on cliffs near Sand Beach. A spokeswoman for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor said Hills was in good condition Sunday night after being transported to the hospital by LifeFlight helicopter.
Christopher Wiebusch, a park ranger involved in the rescue, said Hills was climbing Saturday morning in an area between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole -- known as Old Soaker -- when he slipped and "tumbled" about 50 feet into the ocean.
Hills, who was wearing sneakers, was climbing with his brother-in-law, Wiebusch said.
"He lost his footing and fell. By the time we got there, the tide was going out and he had gotten out of the water," Wiebusch said.
On July 28, three dozen rescue workers spent several hours trying to save the life of a University of Maine student who fell while hiking the Precipice Trail on Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park. A LifeFlight helicopter landed on the mountain and airlifted senior Shirley Ladd, 22, of Barnstead, N.H., to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
The Precipice Trail, which is typically closed to protect peregrine falcon nesting sites, is extremely steep.
Hills, his brother-in-law, and their wives most likely reached the cliffs by walking on the Ocean Path -- a relatively flat gravel walking path that starts at Sand Beach and runs along the top of the cliffs next to the Park Loop Road. The path is known for offering walkers extraordinary views of the surf.
Wiebusch said multiple manmade foot paths lead from Ocean Path to the cliffs that lie below. Access is not restricted, but Wiebusch said the park service discourages climbing because a lot of the shoreline rocks are what rangers call "dirty" or loose.
The park service received a 911 call for help at 11:37 a.m. Saturday.
Chris McGuire, a veteran lifeguard who is stationed at Sand Beach, heard the call. He ran to the area, scrambled down rocks and dove into the ocean, swimming about 150 feet before reaching Hills, Wiebusch said.
McGuire stayed with Hills while rangers mounted a rescue effort that involved about 20 rangers, members of the Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue team and the Bar Harbor Fire Department.
Wiebusch said that after Hills fell, someone tossed a first aid kit to him. Hills was able to bandage his own head.
"He suffered a head injury, but he remained conscious the whole time," Wiebusch said.
Weibusch and John Sanders, a paramedic with Bar Harbor's Fire Department, rappelled down the side of a cliff to reach Hills.
They placed Hills on a litter, which was raised to the top of the cliff with Wiebusch fastened to it.
Hills was transported by ambulance to a ballfield near the Bar Harbor YMCA where he was met by a LifeFlight helicopter that transported him to Bangor.
Wiebusch said Hills was fortunate not to have suffered a more serious injury.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: