July 2, 2013

Dramatic rescue on Mount Katahdin after falling rock strikes hiker

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A 62-year-old Texas man was airlifted Monday from a hiking trail on Mount Katahdin after a large rock fell on him.

click image to enlarge

A 62-year-old Texas man had to be airlifted off a hiking trail on Mount Katahdin on Monday, July 1, 2013 after a large rock fell on him.

Photo by Jensen Bissell

In a dramatic rescue, the Maine Forest Service strapped the man into a tethered harness and lifted him off the mountain by helicopter.

The helicopter flew about six miles -- with the man tethered about 100 feet below -- to a landing site at Caribou Pit in Baxter State Park.

His condition was not available Monday night.

The injured hiker, Ned Hamara, appeared to be in rough shape by the time a ranger arrived on the Hunt Trail, said Jensen Bissell, director of Baxter State Park.

"We were concerned about his shoulder injury. It kept sliding in and out and could not be stabilized. We decided to err on the side of caution," Bissell said.

Bissell said Hamara was hiking on the Hunt Trail, which leads to the peak of Katahdin, when a large rock dislodged and fell on his shoulder around noon Monday.

He also suffered a foot injury that made it impossible for him to walk.

A hiker called 911 and park officials sent a ranger, Yves Baribeau, who is stationed at the Katahdin Stream Campground, to assess Hamara's condition.

Rather than staging a litter rescue, which could have taken as long as 18 hours along the trail, officials decided to call in a helicopter, Bissell said.

There is no safe place for a helicopter to land on the Hunt Trail, and Hamara was injured at an elevation of about 3,900 feet -- far below the Tablelands, an area near the peak where helicopters have landed.

A Maine Forest Service helicopter piloted by Chris Blackie hovered over the Hunt Trail and lowered a tethered crew member and a harness to the ground.

The crew member strapped Hamara to the harness and the helicopter took off with both in tow -- a rescue method known as a short haul.

Hamara was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Millinocket Regional Hospital before being transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with what were believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

Dennis Hoey can be reached at 791-6365 or at:


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 to correct the spelling Yves Baribeau's last name.

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