Missing and injured hiker rescued after being spotted by train passenger: NPR

An injured hiker near Silverton, Colorado was rescued earlier this month after a train passenger spotted her through the window. She was frantically tossing across a river, having spent two days trapped in the desert with a broken leg.

The pilot alerted the crew to Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge diesel engine No. 461, according to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management. They then notified the train inspector, Delton Henry, who was in an automobile behind them.

Henry was able to stop and communicate with the woman on the opposite bank of the Animas River, which was freezing and fast moving.

The hiker, a New Mexico woman in her 20s, had been missing for two days, the San Juan County Emergency Management Office wrote on Facebook. She said she intended to do a day hike, but ended up falling 90 feet down a cliff while trying to take photos.

She lost consciousness for an indefinite period, she reportedly told rescuers. Despite her concussion and a badly broken leg, she was able to crawl to the edge of the river in an attempt to signal the trains. She had no emergency supplies with her, nor appropriate clothing to spend the night outside.

Emergency management spokeswoman DeAnne Gallegos told the Durango Harold that there had been a cold snap while the woman was trapped in the desert. The hiker described spending the day trying to get the attention of passing trains and, at night, hiding against a nearby cliff in an attempt to stay warm.

Henry contacted D&SNG Superintendent Darren Whitten, who called for search and rescue assistance. The 911 operator who picked up said the hiker’s family was looking for her.

Nick and Kylah Breedon, who are married, were the engineer and firefighter for the next train to pass through the location. The train’s 327 passengers waited on the track as the couple crossed the river to examine the woman’s injuries and bring emergency supplies, blankets and a radio for communication.

A CareFlight helicopter was needed to evacuate the woman, but was unable to access the site where she was trapped. With the rescue team involved, Nick left with the train but Kylah, a trained paramedic, stayed with the hiker.

Henry helped rescuers shuttle between the helicopter landing site and the patient. They installed a rope system to transport her across the river on a spine board. They were then able to use a stretcher to carry her to the parked helicopter. She was taken to Montrose Hospital.

D&SNG compensated the train tickets of the passenger who saw the injured hiker and her husband.


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