Backcountry Skier Airlifted Out of Alaskan Backcountry After Being Mauled by Bear

SnowBrains | BackcountryBackcountry
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Black bear in the Sierra Nevada snow. Credit: Getty Images

The Alaska Coast Guard hoisted a skier from the backcountry near Haines on Saturday after he was mauled by a bear.

A helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka hoisted the man who suffered injuries to his head and hands after being attacked on a mountain during a backcountry skiing outing. He was flown to Juneau and placed in the care of awaiting EMS.

Coast Guard watchstanders in the Sector Juneau command center received an agency assist request for the helicopter hoist from Alaska State Troopers at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday.

The helicopter crew located the man and two other skiers in his party about 10 miles northwest of Haines at an elevation of 1,600 feet, just above Chilkoot Lake.

The crew lowered a rescue swimmer to evaluate the skier’s condition, then used a litter to hoist him. The rescue swimmer and flight corpsman provided medical care to the man during the transit to Juneau for higher medical care.

The other two skiers did not need assistance and continued down the mountain on their own.

The man’s condition is not known to the Coast Guard at this time, but he was responsive and talking at the time of the hoist.

“The other two members in the patient’s skiing party had the proper equipment and knowledge to assist with his injuries and communicate for help in 15-degree temperatures with sunset approaching. Their satellite communication device provided the precise GPS coordinates and elevation of their location. Equally important, they had brightly colored fabric to signal the helicopter as we approached. This was absolutely crucial to us finding them in a timely manner.”

– Lt. Cmdr. Will Sirokman, co-pilot for the case

Helicopter crews at Air Station Sitka regularly practice precision hoisting in rough terrain. Aircrews receive medical training and are outfitted with inland search-and-rescue equipment.

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Haines, AK

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