On 9.7.22 AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the State Patrol Dispatch Center in Alamosa about a SOS activation for a hiker, Justin that had fallen on the descent down from Blanca peak. The SOS activation took place just past the Alamosa County line, in Huerfano County. The two agencies spoke and decided that AVSAR would run the mission.
AVSAR began inserting team members by flight for life, heavy with technical gear, adjacent to one of the Blue Lakes. With the help of the reporting party, the fallen hiker, Justin, was spotted by the FFL crew, and even after multiple passes of the helicopter, there was no movement or signs of life. Teams began moving all of the technical gear to the bottom of the Saddle between Ellingwood and Blanca. After all the gear was moved, in order to get an early start in the morning, the teams bivyed at the base of the saddle.
At first light on 9.8.22 teams began formulating a technical plan for the day. REACH29 began inserting additional technical teams adjacent to Crater Lake. A technical plan was made and AVSAR kept additional team members at Incident in the event more teams were needed. Due to the technical terrain and the limited area size, it was decided that only a highly skilled technical team would be on-site.
Canon City Helitack arrived on scene and became familiar with the area and what the winds were doing to help assist with the extraction of the subject, Justin. The plan was to have two team members rappel down to the subjects location, package the subject, then change the technical system over to a haul, to haul the subject approximately 300ft up to the Ridgeline below the summit of Blanca at 13,865ft. Once the subject was hauled to the Ridgeline, Canon City Helitack flew in with a long line attached to the belly of the helicopter and completed the final extraction of the fallen hiker. All teams were out of the field by approximately 1730 hours on 9.8.22
AVSAR would like to extend their most sincere condolences to everyone who loved and knew Justin. We cannot thank the reporting parties enough who stayed on scene for several hours after the accident, triggered their SOS immediately, and assisted the helicopter in locating him.
We also cannot even begin to thank enough our partners on this mission:
Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office
Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office
Flight For Life Colorado – Life Guard 4
REACH Air Medical Services – REACH29