June 18, 2018
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Injured hiker dangled 50 feet below helicopter for ride down Katahdin

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — Edward “Ned” Hamara took a ride down from Mount Katahdin on Monday that Millinocket Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte says maybe a half dozen people get a year.

Dangling from what Turcotte described as a 50-foot static line attached to a Maine Forest Service helicopter, the injured Hamara and Maine Forest Service Ranger Thomas Liba took a five-minute trip down from nearly 4,000 feet to waiting rescuers that included Turcotte, the fire chief said.

A critical-care paramedic, flight paramedic and flight nurse who has worked for LifeFlight of Maine and other helicopter-based emergency services, Turcotte complimented Baxter State Park and forest service rangers for their work saving Hamara.

“It was teamwork and collaboration on a scale that is unimaginable to most people,” Turcotte said Wednesday of the rescue. “I would say maybe half a dozen times a year it [the rope-and-harness rescue] happens here.”

Hamara, 62, of Texas, was recovering at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor on Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The chilly and wet weather, Hamara’s age, the severity of his injuries and the arduousness of the climb down the mountain were among the factors that made Campground Ranger Yves Beribou decide that a Maine Forest Service helicopter that happened to be available would be the best way to transport Hamara off the mountain, park director Jensen Bissell said.

Hamara’s injury occurred on a trail in heavy rocks above the treeline. Rescuers would have been forced to have him camp in a tent rather than risk an overnight rescue had Beribou opted to have Hamara carried out on a stretcher, Bissell said.

A fellow hiker who is also an emergency room doctor treated Hamara and helped rescuers decide on the risky rope-and-tether rescue, Bissell said.

Hamara told Turcotte that he was a retired FBI agent and paramedic who had been involved in similar rescues as a rescuer, Turcotte said.

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