June 18, 2019 OES ###, 19-248 #13 Mutual Aid

The Mono County Sheriff’s Office was contacted for a mutual aid request in support of the search for a 47-year-old Virginia hiker in the Mt. Whitney area missing since June 12. 4 Team members responded, and were assigned a search area to the north of Mirror Lake.

Image by J. Wallace

Image by J. Wallace

The field team accessed their search area via the Mt. Whitney trail, and then by cross-country travel. The field team concluded the search of their area without any evidence of the missing hiker. They returned to base via the Mt. Whitney trail.

Image by J. Wallace

Image by J. Wallace

Image by J. Wallace

Image by J. Wallace

The subject was located that same day on the north side of Mt. Whitney. Unfortunately he was deceased.

IC Pelichowsky. Responders: Quiring, Creager, Wallace, and Kaufman

June 10, 2019 19-236 #12

On Monday, June 10, the Team was called to respond to a report of a 68 year old male from Chalfant, CA, injured in a fall on the south side of Mt. Morrison, at an approximate elevation of 11,200’.   The RP had activated a PLB, and a good location was acquired.  In addition, the RP had a satellite phone, so the IC had communication with the group.  The Team staged on the east side of Convict Lake.  Air resources were requested.

Two field teams left Rescue Base and began the climb up to the subject’s location.  In addition, the CHP called in a crew for helicopter H40, which was just finishing up routine maintenance.  H40 responded to the coordinates provided by the PLB, and quickly located the subject on steep talus terrain.

H40 landed at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport, stripped extraneous gear, and onboarded a Team member, who was down-hoisted to the subject’s location.  H40 returned for another SAR member and the titanium litter and Bowman Bag, which were also down-hoisted to the subject’s location.

H40 returned to the airport for fuel and to wait for the subject to be packaged, then returned to the scene and hoisted out the subject and delivered him to Medic 3 back at the airport.  H40 then extracted the two SAR members on scene.

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Field teams 1 and 2 had been put on standby and requested to hold their position upon the arrival of H40.  Once H40 successfully retrieved the subject, the field teams were advised to return to base.

Field team holding for helicopter extraction of the subject. Image by J. Bush

Field team holding for helicopter extraction of the subject. Image by J. Bush

The subject indicated that he had been walking on snow, with crampons, when he tripped and began sliding down the steep snowfield.  He slid out of sight of his companions on a steep rollover, and then his momentum was subsequently arrested by exposed rocks, though he tumbled approximately 30’ over the rocks before coming to rest.

The SAR medical team indicated that the subject had a 2” laceration to the back of his head by a sharp rock that penetrated his helmet, and a possible skull fracture, though not displaced.  The subject likely had a fractured shoulder and scapula, as well as other lacerations and contusions.

Medic 3 delivered him to Mammoth Hospital, and he was subsequently flown to Renown, current condition unknown.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Leader Beck/Cowan. Responders: Blackman, Buchanan, Bush, Creager, Dunne, Kaufman, Knight, Patterson, Pavlovsky, Senior, Torrence, Evans, and Wallace

May 31, 2019 19-217 #11

On Friday, May 31 at 3:57 pm, the Team responded to a call for a 55-year-old female with a possible ankle fracture approximately one mile in on the Parker Lake Trail in the June Lake Loop. The Team had 18 responders for the call. Several field teams went in with medical gear and the wheeled litter at approximately 4:30 pm.

Field teams leaving the trailhead. Image by M. Quiring

Field teams leaving the trailhead. Image by M. Quiring

The subject was treated by members of her own party prior to arrival of the field teams, and her party had been attempting to help her our on their own, but were concerned about the length of time passing.

The Jeffrey Pine splint applied by the subject’s hiking companions. Image by M. Quiring

The Jeffrey Pine splint applied by the subject’s hiking companions. Image by M. Quiring

Preparing the subject for transport via wheeled litter. Image by M. Quiring

Preparing the subject for transport via wheeled litter. Image by M. Quiring

The Team packaged the subject for transport in the wheeled litter and quickly rolled her out to the trailhead; she arrived at 5:56 pm and she was transported by her party to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. The hospital verified that the injury was in fact a fracture, and surgery was pending a reduction in swelling at the time this narrative was produced.

Easy roll out to the trailhead. Image by M. Quiring

Easy roll out to the trailhead. Image by M. Quiring

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Leader, Beck/Wallace. Responders: Evans, Kaufman, Anderson, Patterson, Quiring, Carlson, Cucura, Torrence, Endo, Creager, Hennes, Zila, Cowan, Hartstrom, Lambert, Padilla.

May 18-19, 2019 19-200 #10

Saturday evening at 7:37 pm we had a call for a skier with a possible broken leg near the entrance to the North Couloir on the Incredible Hulk.  A party of 3 had hiked in from Mono Village, waded across Robinson Creek (which as expected for spring time was running fast and cold), and continued up Little Slide Canyon.  About 30 minutes after crossing the creek, they hit the snowline, and put on their skis and skins and continued up the canyon.

As the terrain became steeper below the entrance to the couloir, they removed their skis and bootpacked up the couloir.  On the descent, one of the skiers fell from about 3/4 height, and tumbled and slid down the couloir, and when the fall ended, he found he had multiple left leg fractures, but most notably an open tib-fib with considerable bone exposed.  The accident occurred at approximately 5 pm.

One of the group activated a PLB, and they waited for a helo to collect them (it was later learned that no PLB activation was recorded).  The helo did not arrive, and one of their party hiked out to Mono Village and reported the accident to the SO.  The Team was activated, and 3 large field teams were sent out.  The weather was cold, and as the field teams were gathering gear, it began to snow.  All teams departed well after dark; it is about 3 miles in on the trail, and just past the wilderness boundary, the field teams left the trail and found the downed tree crossing.

There is a use trail on the south side of the creek that leads into Little Slide Canyon, and all field teams used this and the downed tree bridge instead of wading the creek.  At base the decision had been made to send the field teams with snowshoes as few folks had skis, skins, and ski crampons.  Little Slide Canyon was covered in deep snow, and is quite steep in places, and the Team's technical snowshoes were well suited to the terrain.

The field teams arrived at the subject's location at approximately 12:42 am and found him to be in tremendous pain, and his injury grievous, with considerable blood loss.  He was packaged in a SKED litter, and a long series of lowerings commenced at 1:35 am. 

One of the many litter lowerings on the way out.  Image by Mitchell Quiring

One of the many litter lowerings on the way out. Image by Mitchell Quiring

The SKED litter was lowered approximately 800’ via anchored belays, and then carried/dragged over the snow to the snowline.

The wheel and titanium litter had been left at snowline; there was moderate snowfall all night, over 6" in all, and the uptrack was obliterated, making it difficult to retrace the route, and to find the litter and wheel.  Eventually they were located, and the entire package of SKED litter and subject were loaded into the wheeled litter.  The descent had many snow-covered sidehills, and these were very difficult to cross with the wheeled litter.  In addition, there were sections of thick brush, willows, boulder fields, and dense trees.

The use trail was regained, and it was entirely different than it was on the ascent, due to the continuous overnight snowfall.  There were very narrow, precipitous sections, and many smooth granite slabs now covered in fresh snowfall.   Air resources were requested, but the weather was still a limiting factor.  CHP H40 stated that they could not cross the Sierra, and Fallon was not sure what they could do.

Daybreak, still a ways to go.  Image by B. Beck

Daybreak, still a ways to go. Image by B. Beck

Considering our options.  Image by Mitchell Quiring

Considering our options. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Multiple belays were built to safeguard the Team and the subject as they continued the sketchy descent.  The belay teams were leap-frogging to keep the litter moving, while preventing falls into the abyss.  After many, many belayed sections down the marginal use trail, the field teams arrived on the valley floor. 

Preventing the litter and attendants from going over the side.  Image by Mitchell Quiring

Preventing the litter and attendants from going over the side. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Belay number 1,043 or so…  Image by B. Beck

Belay number 1,043 or so… Image by B. Beck

The last series of belayed lowerings.  Image by B. Beck

The last series of belayed lowerings. Image by B. Beck

It was not feasible to cross the downed trees with the litter, so the litter team hopped in the freezing cold 2-foot deep creek (after spending the entire night out in the cold and snow), and waded the litter to the other bank.  From there it was 3 miles on the snow-covered trail back to the trailhead, and urgency was indicated as the steady blood loss continued unabated. 

Refreshing creek crossing.  Image by Mitchell Quiring

Refreshing creek crossing. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Creek crossing.  Image by Mark Zila

Creek crossing. Image by Mark Zila

Gaining the trail immediately after the creek crossing.  Image by B. Beck

Gaining the trail immediately after the creek crossing. Image by B. Beck

Nearing the trailhead.  Image by Mark Zila

Nearing the trailhead. Image by Mark Zila

The subject was handed off to Mono County Medics, and was then flown out on Care Flight.  The subject’s ski partner indicated that after surgery, it is likely that the subject will not lose his leg;  that is amazing considering the severity of the injury, and the time it took to get him out due to extremely difficult conditions.

The Team displayed extraordinary team work, competence, and professionalism in successfully effecting this extraction and rescue.  At one point there were 18 personnel out in the field, and 16 of those were out for the entire duration from 7:37 pm on Saturday night until 9:14 am Sunday morning, a tremendous effort.  The Team continues to perform outstanding work.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Leader Beck/Wallace. Responders: Patterson, Torrence, Hansen T, Zila, Buchanan, Bush, Creager, Hammack L, Hartstrom, Pavlovsky, Quiring, Anderson, Montgomery, Mosher, Mulligan, Evans, Senior, Padilla

April 28, 2019 19-167 #9

The Team was called for a carry out of an injured climber in the Owens River Gorge. The staging area was to be the 3rd (upper) parking area. Based on initial reports of the severity of the injury, Care Flight was called, as well as Mono County Medic 3 unit. Numerous bystanders, including a physician, RN, and others with medical training rendered aid, and transported the subject to the trailhead, most likely via one of the in situ litters stationed in the Gorge, where they were met by Medic 3.

Medic 3 stated that no further assistance was needed, and most of the responders turned around prior to arrival at the trailhead.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Leader Beck. Responders: Patterson, Kaufman, Quiring, Buchanan, Wallace, Case, Cowan

March 23, 2019 19-113 #8

In the late afternoon of March 23, 2019, the Team received a report of a snowmobile accident near the summit of Bald Mountain. It was reported that the subject had a very serious ankle injury. The Team responded to Deadman Summit, and a field team of 8 rescuers and 7 snomos departed rescue base.

The Reporting Party was located, and he led the responders to the subject, who was nearby. The subject had a severely broken ankle/leg, with an open fracture and significant blood loss. The subject was packaged and transported via Rescueboggan to rescue base, where he was delivered to Mono County medics. The medics transported the subject to Mammoth Hospital for treatment.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Leader Beck. Responders: Wallace, Patterson, Rea, Kaufman, Bush, Hammack, L, Carlson, Quiring, Fernandez

March 14, 2019 19-086 #7

On March 14, 2019 two MOSAR members were deployed to assist Inyo County Sheriff's Office with an area search and RECCO search of the Kearsarge Pass area.  

On the flight to Kearsarge Pass. Image by Mitchell Quiring

On the flight to Kearsarge Pass. Image by Mitchell Quiring

2 SAR personnel were deployed with 2 additional Inyo County SAR members and 4 additional Marine Corp searchers to the Big Pothole Lake area near the top of Kearsarge pass via helicopter.  

All 8 personnel skied from the top of the pass to the bottom of the canyon to their vehicles. No clues were located. 2 Mono County SAR Personnel were on scene from 0500 to 1800 hours.

IC: Pelichowsky. Responders: Quiring, Cucura

Preparing for helo transport to Kearsarge Pass. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Preparing for helo transport to Kearsarge Pass. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Preparing for helo transport to Kearsarge Pass.  Image by Joey Cucura

Preparing for helo transport to Kearsarge Pass. Image by Joey Cucura

March 13, 2019 19-086 #6

On March 13, 2019 two MOSAR members were deployed to assist Inyo County Sheriff's Office with an area search and RECCO search of the Onion Valley Trail head parking lot and campground.   Both SAR members were deployed and retrieved via Seahawk helicopter. No clues were located.  SAR members were on scene from 0600-1800 hours. 

IC: Pelichowsky. Responders: Quiring, Hammack L.

The LZ is a little soft…  Image by Luke Hammack

The LZ is a little soft… Image by Luke Hammack

Seahawk transportation to the search area.  Image by Mitchell Quiring

Seahawk transportation to the search area. Image by Mitchell Quiring

Image by Inyo SAR

Image by Inyo SAR

March 8, 2019 19-086 #5

On March 8, 2019 seven (7) Mono County Search and Rescue members deployed to the Bishop Airport for an Inyo County mutual aid request/standby for aerial searching in progress for Kraft.  

SAR personnel were tasked with ground searching the area of Onion Valley Road and all other possible trailheads in an attempt to locate Kraft's Jeep.  The Jeep was not located until the following day.  

7 SAR personnel were on scene from 0500 hours to 1800 hours. IC: Pelichowsky. Responders: Torrence, Beck, Wallace, Leyen, Buchanan, Hammack L, Quiring

Inyo County snowcat attempting to reach the trailhead.  Image by Inyo SAR

Inyo County snowcat attempting to reach the trailhead. Image by Inyo SAR

February 17, 2019 19-063 #2

On Sunday, February 17, the Team received a call for a disoriented snowshoer near Earthquake Dome. Two team members drove to the Cinder Shed, and launched two snowmobiles on the trail system. The subject was located on the trail system, 2-3 miles from the Cinder Shed. She was returned to the trailhead via snowmobile.

IC Pelichowski, Responders: Quiring, Bush

January 12, 2019 19-017, #1

On January 13, 2019, a snowboarder was reported as overdue near closing time at MMSA. Ski Patrol was in the process of an active search, both inbounds and out. The subject was reported to be of low skill level and experience, and was riding with friends off of Chair 23 via Roadrunner. The subject’s friends reported him missing when the group became separated.

After sundown, the Sheriff’s Office was notified, and the Team was requested to assist. As the Team arrived on scene at MMSA Main Lodge, the respondents were put on temporary standby as Ski Patrol was concluding their search.

Shortly thereafter, Ski Patrol initiated voice contact with the subject, and then visually located the subject. The Team was released, and Ski Patrol returned the subject to Main Lodge, cold but uninjured.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Hammack, L Responders: Bush, Kaufman, Quiring, Rea, Beck, Wallace, Patterson, Cucura, Creager, Buchanan, Dunne, and Hagan.

November 23, 2018 18-634, #37

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, the team was notified of a hiker in distress, snowed in around the Garnet Lake area, near the PCT at approximately 9,900 feet elevation. The hiker’s condition was reported as stable. Winter weather restricted air access to the area.

On Friday, November 23, MOSAR team members rendezvoused with a National Guard CH-64 Chinook helicopter at the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport.

Schooner 20, Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment,  40th Combat Aviation Brigade .

Schooner 20, Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.

After loading equipment, the combined team of MOSAR and the National Guard flight crew waited on the runway for a weather window.

The flight crew of Guardian 803 navigated in the tight airspace, in a snowstorm, in the High Sierra, and were able to locate the subject. A suitable landing zone was located, and the Chinook set down less than 40 feet away from the subject.

The subject was rapidly onboarded, followed by a medical assessment and treatment. A Mono County medic unit met the helicopter at the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport and provided ongoing patient care and transport.

Responders were Hammack, Endo, Quiring, and Kaufman.

Subject recovered, safely on the airship, and receiving medical care.

Subject recovered, safely on the airship, and receiving medical care.

November 18-21, 2018, 18-616 #36

Second mutual aid response to the Butte County Camp Fire.  The Team was assigned to the task of clearing properties (searching for human remains, pets, hazards, etc) in the outskirts of Concow, CA. Team members were stationed each night at a large rescue/fire camp (called Camp Forebay) in Oroville, CA. The camp provided a large mess area, showers, sleeping area, medical zone, PPE distribution, fuel-up area, large IC area, and much more. The team slept in tents out in the quieter section of the park/camp. Ops began at 0830 each morning and concluded at 1600. Level 3 hazmat gear was worn each day, and the National Guard ran decontamination stations for us, equipment, and vehicles each day. Our last day a clear set of bones was found, but upon investigation by anthropologists, it turned out to (likely) be a two-toed animal and not human. Responders were: Quiring, Wallace, Luke Hammack, Hagan, Beck, Hartstrom, Pelichowski and Hansen. The Team volunteered 336 man hours for this call.

November 12-14, 2018, 18-616 #35

The Team responded in Mutual Aid to Butte County to search for human remains in the Camp Fire devastation.  Protective gear for eyes, breathing, and clothing was required  The Team arrived at midnight and slept in a classroom on the floor.  The first day's assignment was to search through missing person's properties that were reduced to ashes, looking for any sign of human remains with the assistance of an anthropologist.  The next two nights they slept on cots in a high school gymnasium with 200 of their closest friends.  The next day they were assigned a large area to check inside every car, again looking for human remains; marking every car searched.  While in Paradise they had on full protective gear and completed the National Guard's decontamination process.  Responders were:  Pelichowski, Greene, Kaufman, Buchanan, and Quiring.  The Team volunteered 172 man hours for this call.  412 POV miles.

November 3 & 4, 2018, 18-576 #34

In a continuation of the Karlie Guse’ search, the Team responded to a request for flankers and support to assist human remains detecting dog teams in the area around White Mountain Estates. Responders were:  Case, Bush, Kaufman, Quiring, Buchanan, Wallace, and Greene.   The Team volunteered 102 man hours for this call.  556 POV miles.

November 1 & 2, 2018, 18-599 #33

Alpine County requested mutual aid searchers for a missing peak bagger in difficult terrain at high altitude.  The subject was found deceased on November 3 at the base of a 200 foot cliff.  Responders were:  Pelichowski (MCSO 2 days), Quiring (2 days), Buchanan (2 days), Kaufman (2 days), Bush, Wallace, and Cucura.  The Team volunteered 162 man hours for this call.  548 POV miles.

October 21, 2018 18-584 #32

The Team was called at 5 PM to locate and rescue a 21 year old male from San Jose, CA who had severe symptoms of altitude sickness.  The location was given as 1-1/2 miles above Barney Lake out of the Mono Village trailhead.  The Team hiked in approximately 5 miles with the RP, and arrived in two hours.  It was dark from start to finish for the entire incident.  The subject was hypothermic, disoriented, shivering, and in pain. His spo2 was 62%, with rapid breathing and weak radial pulse.  He could not walk.  After an hour of oxygen, his condition improved enough that a 4 hour carryout was started, arriving at the trailhead at 0210, where Mono County Paramedic 7 transported him to Carson Valley Medical Center in Gardnerville.  No helicopter service was available.  Responders were:  Hansen (IC), Buchanan, Kaufman, Hagan, Hartstrom, and Patterson.  The Team volunteered 62 man hours for this call.