BAXTER STATE PARK,Maine — A news photographer for WLBZ was airlifted to a Millinocket hospital Thursday afternoon after a fall from Knife Edge Trail, one of the highest and most difficult-to-access points in Baxter State Park.
Dan Frye was shooting a story about Mount Katahdin when he slipped and fell 10 to 12 feet, injuring his head and torso, Park Director Jensen Bissell said. Also on the assignment were colleagues Jackie Ward, a reporter, and anchorman Chris Faccini.
Ward reported the accident to the park’s headquarters about 12:30 p.m., Bissell said.
After dispatching a ranger to the scene from Chimney Pond, park officials notified the Bangor-based 126th Army National Guard Medivac Unit in Bangor and asked for assistance.
A Blackhawk medivac helicopter arrived to evacuate Frye about 2:30 p.m. Frye arrived at Millinocket Regional Hospital for treatment about an hour later, Bissell said.
No further information about Frye’s medical condition was available Thursday night.
“Everything worked in Mr. Frye’s favor,” Bissell said Thursday, noting that the weather was perfect and that the medivac crew was available and ready to fly the mission. “This was very unusual.”
Had it been cloudy and rainy, Frye likely would have had to have been carried down the mountain, an 18- to 24-hour operation that would have involved as many as 40 people.
“We wouldn’t have been able to get him out until at noon tomorrow [Friday],” Bissell said.
Bissell said that without the help of the National Guard, hikers would face long and difficult evacuations after being injured in remote, steep areas of the park far from roads or facilities.
Bissell said hikers always should prepare carefully and keep personal safety in mind.
Information on how to prepare for a Katahdin hike can be seen on the park’s website at baxterstateparkauthority.com.