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Tom''s rescue from Fat Man''s~was: [NEWS] Body of missing hiker found - Little Wild Horse

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Dean Kurtz, May 6, 2009.

  1. Dean Kurtz

    Dean Kurtz Guest

    > There is not a whole lot to my side of the story. I'd love to hear more of > Dean's role in the rescue. He actually got left behind in the middle of > the night, with no gear, because the helicopter was over weight. Dean, > wasn't that just after the night flying certification?<

    Okay, I'll oblige...

    As used to be the case with all rescues in Kane, I got called first. I had the squad leaders try to round up more folks while I grabbed the rope gear and headed to the Sheriff's Office to meet up with volunteers and deputies. It was late in the afternoon, in October, and I knew their was no way to get to Tom before dark on foot. So, Tom, you can blame me for the chopper bill, but you cannot hold me responsible for it.;-) We ordered up Classic Lifeguard and requested that they meet us at a staging area at the intersection of Hwy. 9 and North Fork Road.

    When I arrived there we had a few minutes before Classic would get there, so I discussed, no...I argued with one of the Kane deputies about the need for a helicopter. This shining star was convinced that we could go back to the Coral Pink Sands, up through Elephant Gap, and drive into the East Fork and right to Tom's location. Even with a topo map sprawled out in front of him, coordinates for Tom marked, and a rapid lesson in how to read elevation contours, the poor boy still didn't get it. I let him know that he was welcome to try whatever he wanted, but that I was going with the rope gear, in the chopper, and he finally backed off. So Classic landed, I grabbed a pack, a radio, and a sat phone. I brought no other gear, having been told that there was space and weight issues, but being assured that I would be brought back out.

    Well, take off to landing was only about 5 minutes, and the very skilled pilot (also named Tom, as was, I recall, the medic) grabbed a tight landing spot incredibly close to Tom's location. The medic, nurse and myself hiked to Tom and were then able to assist him in hopping and crawling his way back to the chopper. I recall that I only payed out rope as a handline in one spot? So the crew gets him loaded, and the pilot turns to me and says, "Sorry, we can't take you because of weight and space restrictions. Do you have overnight gear?" My answer went something like, "No, YOU told me I would get a ride out of here". He apologized and told me that after delivering Tom to the hospital in St. George, he would come back for me, but provided me with some water, hard candy for food, a survival bag from the aircraft, and a liter of fuel to start a fire with, "Just in case". I told him that would be fine and asked that he relay the information to the group at the staging area once he was in the air, since by this time I had already discovered that I was in a radio dead zone.

    I don't recall how much time went by, but it had definitely become dark, and knowing that the pilot and chopper did not have night vision technology on board, I deduced that he wasn't coming back. No big deal, though, I knew I would survive the night, I just needed to call my wife and the crew at the staging area and let them know I would hike out in the morning. Only one problem, the sat phone service had been shut down. So, I proceeded to climb, by headlamp, about a 200' 4th class route to an elevated area where I was finally able to hit a repeater with my radio. Turns out the crew at the staging area had also figured out that they weren't coming back for me, and in fact, were already back in Page with the chopper in the hangar. The SAR commander then called the Sheriff to let him know I was staying overnight, and apparently the Sheriff pitched a fit. He called Classic dispatch and their flight director and chewed them out for leaving me. Once finished with the tongue lashing, Classic told him that they had another bird out on training with Night Vision Goggles, and that they would send them for me.

    So, about forty-five minutes later I had strobes out to mark the same very small, very tight landing spot that had been used previously, and from over the cliffs to the east came the next chopper. At this point they were flying using the Night Sun spotlight mounted on the front, but as they looped around and began to approach, they shut the light down and everything went black for a few seconds. Now it should be noted that while I knew they were coming for me, I had no idea that they were flying with NVG's, so after the light went out and once my eyes adjusted, I was able to make out the large ponderosa pines encircling the landing zone to the south, as well as the large cliff face that I had previously climbed to the north and east. All I could think was that he couldn't possibly see and was doomed for an impact with something. So I ran, took off down the only possible route, off the hill and down into the drainage leading into Fat Man's. Obviously he landed without incident, though, and I quickly gathered Tom's gear and the SAR gear, loaded up, and headed for home.

    Tom, not sure if you are aware of this or not, but the pilot that took you, Tom Caldwell, died last June in Flagstaff in a mid-air collision with another chopper from Guardian. Both flight crews, as well as the patient's they were transporting, all perished in, or as a result of the collision.

    Dean
  2. tomcandoit

    tomcandoit Guest

    > It was late in the afternoon, in October, and I knew their was no way to get > to Tom before dark on foot. So, Tom, you can blame me for the chopper bill,

    My insurance paid for all but about $1,600, so the cost was not that bad. And, like the credit card ad, ...not having to spend a freezing cold night, hurt, alone, and scared,... Priceless!

    > I discussed, no...I argued with one of the Kane deputies about the need for > a helicopter.

    I had no idea. Guess if you don't understand them squiggly lines on the map, then just ignore 'em.

    > Well, take off to landing was only about 5 minutes, and the very skilled > pilot (also named Tom, as was, I recall, the medic) grabbed a tight landing > spot incredibly close to Tom's location.

    It was just after sunset, and I had given up hope of rescue that day. Then I heard the copter, and saw it flying straight toward me. Oh, man, what a relief! I set my headlamp to the blink setting and aimed it as best I could at the helicopter. There was no acknowledgement. It just cruised by. Hmmm. Then I could hear it hovering for a while, but I couldn't see it. Then...oh,no!...it just flew away. I thought it couldn't land and I was stuck there after all. There was absolute silence. It was several minutes before I heard something and called out...

    The medic, nurse and myself hiked > to Tom and were then able to assist him in hopping and crawling his way back > to the chopper.

    With gloves on, crab-walking works well, and with good holds, you can hop up fairly steep rock sections. I was given some knees and shoulders to step on too.

    I recall that I only payed out rope as a handline in one > spot?

    Don't remember a hand line, but you and Tom carried me over a couple of cactus patches.

    So the crew gets him loaded, and the pilot turns to me and says, > "Sorry, we can't take you because of weight and space restrictions.

    [...]

    > All I could think was that he couldn't possibly see and was doomed for an > impact with something.

    Ooooo, that must have been a bad moment!

    > Tom, not sure if you are aware of this or not, but the pilot that took you, > Tom Caldwell, died last June in Flagstaff in a mid-air collision with > another chopper from Guardian.

    I thought so, but wasn't 100% sure. So tragic. He was a great guy.
  3. Dean Kurtz

    Dean Kurtz Guest

    >My insurance paid for all but about $1,600, so the cost was not that bad. >And, like the credit card ad, ...not having to spend a freezing cold night, >hurt, alone, and scared,... Priceless!<

    Sometimes it really does pay to have good insurance.

    >I had no idea. Guess if you don't understand them squiggly lines on the >map, then just ignore 'em.<

    Ignorance is bliss.

    >With gloves on, crab-walking works well, and with good holds, you can hop >up fairly steep rock sections. I was given some knees and shoulders to step >on too.<

    Ha! I forgot about the crab-walking. Added style points!

    >I thought so, but wasn't 100% sure. So tragic. He was a great guy.<

    Not sure if you caught the medic Tom's last name, my memory of him is fuzzy. But the medic that died along with Tom Caldwell was Tom Clausing, and I'm not sure if it was the same one. My feeling is that it wasn't, but like I said, not sure.

    Dean
  4. orsdoc

    orsdoc Guest

    Ha! I forgot about the crab-walking. Added style points!
    >I thought so, but wasn't 100% sure. So tragic. He was a great guy.<
    Not sure if you caught the medic Tom's last name, my memory of him is fuzzy. > But the medic that died along with Tom Caldwell was Tom Clausing, and I'm > not sure if it was the same one. My feeling is that it wasn't, but like I > said, not sure.

    This was in the SL trib this morning 9 May 9. I only noticed it because of this dicussion. For the full article you'll have to follow the link.

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_12326045?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com

    Feds say chopper crash that killed Utah nurse was pilots' fault Safety » Flight path, visual alertness blamed.

    ............................

    St. Mark's Hospital flight nurse James Taylor, 36, was among them. Also killed in the crash were Michael MacDonald, 26, of Browning, Mont., an injured firefighter being taken to the hospital, flight nurse Shawn "Clyde" Shreeve Jr., 36, of Flagstaff, patient Raymond Zest, 55, from Winslow, Ariz., pilot Patrick Graham, 51, of Flagstaff, pilot Tom Caldwell, 54, of Page, flight medic Tom Clausing, 36, of Leavenworth, Wash.
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